Self Portrait: Sanctioned, 2011, egg tempera and gold leaf on linen,32 x 26 in.
Dokhtare Bahar (Girl Of Spring), 2011, graphite and pigment on paper, 42 x 32 in.
Danger, 2009, egg tempera and oil on linen, 30 x 24 in.
Terrors Advocate, 2011, graphite and pigment on paper, 40 x 30 in.
Discipline, 2009, egg tempera and gold leaf on linen, 30 x 24 in.
Hey Haji, 2010, graphite on paper, 40 x 30 in.
Still Life: Half Sin, 2011, egg tempera and gold leaf on linen, 43 x 36 in.
Suicide Is Painless Dear, 2008, egg tempera on linen, 32 x 29 in.
After my most recent visit to Iran I became more acutely aware of the cultural mores governing what would be deemed “inappropriate”, an accessible state-of-being within any culture. Growing up an Iranian within America had been arduous and awkward compounded by being a female of Muslim background. As a whole, we, as Iranians, had little consciousness of assimilation because of a constant denial of our permanence in America. Being a young woman born into the new name of the Islamic Republic of Iran involves a certain degree of uncertainty over one’s identity. In Iran I found myself to be transgressive, yet within American culture being Iranian is transgressive in that American individualism and Iranian deference to tradition were irreconcilable and traveling down one of those paths meant turning your back on the other even if the defiance was temporal; this was the hidden catch of the formation of my identity. The contradictions caused my head to constantly bounce around the questions of percentages; identity which is inherently exterior and self-defined versus inward and pre-determined. Was it like a game of backgammon – sixty percent luck, forty percent skill.
For example, I am from a Muslim background, but I have a fascination with popular culture and its accessibility to modern day Iran. Still, boundaries exist. Youth in the age of media and internet growing up within the confine of strict tradtional society. The decision to engage with painting was dependent of the intent to blur boundaries between tradition and the avant-garde. I am very interested in giving expression to Iranian modernity and experiences-how we, as Iranians whether living abroad or under the flag of the Republic can claim our modern experiential existence while still owning our traditions. If the work is about anything, it’s about lived experience and how to claim that experience.
Paying close attention to the cultural taboos identified by distinctly different social groups, particularly those of gender, race and socioeconomic position, my work reflects the cross-pollination, or lack thereof, in our “modern” society. Since I myself am considered a taboo in that I am a conglomerate of equal, yet irreconcilable cultural forces, my work challenges plebeian notions of acceptable behavior. This is evidenced by the self-portraiture and autobiographical echo in each of my pieces. I draw on realism and renaissance painting to bring a focus on an acceptable beauty and its relationship with art history under the guise of traditional Persian miniature painting. I am aware that I am indulging in an anachronistic practice which is labor intensive and, perhaps, limited in the scope of its impact. My interest, however, is in painting a present which is of and intrinsically linked to the past, making it easily understood by the Iranian and inductive of assumption for the western.