Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Empowering the Women of Iran

“The women in my paintings are so clever and powerful!”
Afshin Pirhashemi

What comes to top of mind when one thinks about Iran are sanctions, impending conflict with Israel and the US and a patriarchal society. There is also a thriving art scene in the beleaguered nation with many of its artists being recognized worldwide. And amongst that number is the figurative painter Afshin Pirhashemi who lives and works in Tehran even though other cities have beckoned since he won the 2004 Beijing Art Biennial Award. 

For as he told art finding, “If I’d left, it would feel as though I ceased to be an artist because it is the controversy that drives me."

Pirhashemi predominantly paints women, strong and capable women, in a photorealistic style in monochromatic tones to which from time to time he will add color highlights. As he told Time Out DubaiI started painting when I was six and I always pictured artists admiring the women in their lives.” But each of his women is an actress presenting an aspect the complexities of contemporary Iranian life as observed by the artist. Pirhashemi explained his intent saying “Each of my paintings conveys a specific message. Put next to each other, they construct a narrative reflecting my state of mind and opinions on situations observed around me.

Adopting his father’s high regard for the female of the species and Botticelli’s admiration of the feminine form, Pirashemi’s ladies are the equal of any situation or predicament in which cares to locate them.

As Buro 24/7 said about his 2014 London exhibition SeductionDisguising weakened characters under seductive veils, he provides them with weapons to protest against a society that has annihilated their rights. In an almost black and white world of oxymorons, Pirhashemi gives them power, a face and a voice.

Pirhashemi current exhibition Femafia is on show at Dubai’s Ayyam Gallery until the 30th of April.

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