Self Portrait Series, Painting, Oil on Canvas

Curator Dr. Alireza Sami Azar

Shirin Gallery, Tehran, Iran, 2015

Mahemehr Art Gallery, Tehran, Iran, 2014

For this collection I was primarily inspired by my own immigration process and story. At the time, I was questioning why I was leaving Tehran, Iran, even though I knew my daughter would have a better future. Also, my husband’s family was in Toronto so it seemed like a logical decision. However, I had all of these trepidations and wanted my paintings to portray a fragile woman falling from the sky onto a car. In my mind, Iran was my heaven and leaving everything behind felt like an accidental journey. I knew that entering an unknown future in a foreign land would be difficult. Ultimately I wanted my work to reflect a woman’s a deadly decision. I took countless pictures of myself screaming/falling down a set of stairs or on top of a mattress. In a way it was a form of performance art that captured an authentic frame of mind and a raw wounded soul. I was also inspired by a true event. There is a picture of a young woman named Evelyn who committed suicide in 1947. A young photography student named Robert Wiles took this picture and it was published in LIFE magazine. It was shocking and I was moved by it. Also, taking pictures of myself for the paintings as I was falling, sweating, screaming, was a very cathartic experience for me.

During the Iran-Iraq war, I had the same feelings, as I shifted my body from one city to the next: all of it felt very surreal. The clouds in these paintings create a dream-like atmosphere but I also wanted to illustrate my fall from the familiar as a real phenomena. The car is mechanical in its coloring: white, blue, and dark burgundy and the window is broken. In the Installation view I am wearing modern clothes which as symbolic of assimilation to the Western feminine ideal (a light pink blouse, high heels and a skirt). However, the scene is far more shocking and melancholic, for it gives the illusion of being tangled in stones and shards of glass. Furthermore, the apocalyptic, desolate cityscape is draped in grey. Lush hues are absent for this place--which can be anywhere--because the city is devoid of roots or familial connections. All of it felt like a desperate act of displacement. This was my epiphany: an awful sin, ancient as the fall of man (or suicide) had occurred.

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