Iran is currently facing a tumultuous wave of protests following the tragic death of 22-year-old Mahsi Amini in police custody after allegedly failing to meet the Islamic republic’s strict religious dress code. Demanding an immediate end to oppressive laws and an improvement in basic human rights, Iranians have taken over the country’s streets in large numbers to declare their discontent and spark change by any means necessary.
As tensions continue to build up and rise, the importance of creative expression is once again being highlighted as through art and culture, Iranians are able to articulate the frustrations, dreams, and aspirations that words alone cannot always fully describe. From striking street art to poignant poetry, artists from the Persian State are using their talent to stress on their fears, doubts, and dreams for a better future with resulting pieces usually reflecting their deep-seated despair.
As the world watches and listens to Iranians revolt, Art Dubai is currently offering a glimpse into the transformative potential of art to drive social progress and inspire us to think beyond the limits of our own experience. Through its commitment to showcasing a diverse range of artistic expression and amplifying the stories of those who might otherwise go unheard, the highly esteemed cultural gathering, currently underway in Madinat Jumeirah and held under the patronage of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, is one of the most significant international art fairs in the Middle East, attracting 130 galleries from over 40 countries, including Iran.
Now in its 16th edition, Art Dubai is serving as a platform for both established and emerging artists, leaving ample space for those struggling to express themselves freely and without constraint. Below, a list of five female Iranian creatives whose work are being showcased at Art Dubai this year.
Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian
The celebrated Iranian artist and folk art collector died in 2019. She first gained recognition as one of the leading contemporary artists in Iran, known for her unique style that blended traditional Iranian geometric patterns and cut-glass mosaic techniques with modern Western geometric abstraction. Her artistic practice earned her global acclaim and in 2017, a museum was opened in her honor in Tehran which was also named after her.
Primarily known for being a sculptor, Kazemi turned to painting in 2020 after the COVID-19 pandemic prevented her from accessing her art studio. She used her magical canvases, created in her small apartment in Iran, to escape from the confines of lockdown.
Employing symbols and various imagery to avoid government scrutiny and eventual censorship, Kazemi’s paintings explore themes of environmental and medical anxiety, feminism, and humanity, using tokens and motifs from nature, classical paintings, and everyday objects to send her message.
The talented multi-media artist’s works are primarily focused on ceramics. Her artistic vision is rooted in mythology and psychology, weaving together intricate narratives that explore both the female psyche and the ancient Mesopotamian region’s rich history. With an interest in folklore culture, alternative histories, alchemy, and the LGBTQ+ movement, Asadi’s work excavates culture as a form of therapy, employing psychology, mythology, and structuralism to create captivating and thought-provoking pieces.
Khorramian is an Iranian-American artist whose creative expertise encompasses various mediums, such as printmaking, collage, video art, animation, and clothing design. Her practice features a blend of traditional and contemporary techniques, integrating animation, digital media, and found footage with mono-typing, drawing, and collage. The artist’s work explores discarded and accidental outcomes through fictional and theatrical constructions, resulting in a dynamic creative process. She also sits at the helm of her own clothing brand, LALOON Studios.
Born to an Iranian mother and an Egyptian father in Tehran, Eleish is both a painter and a poet who has been showcased in solo and group exhibitions in several locations around the globe including Dubai and Tehran. Her work primarily focuses on memory and the idea of nostalgia which she tries to convey through each one of her pieces as to her, “painting is only grasped if the viewer or an audience is touched by that raw feeling that cannot be contained or described”.