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I Was There by Zeynab Movahed, Acrylic on Canvas 47x63
Solo Exhibition
March 22 - April 1, 2016
Opening Reception
Thursday, March 24, 6:00-9:00pm
Meet the Artist @ Opening Reception
Artist Talk and Intro @ 7:30pm
Zeynab Movahed: was born in 1981 in Tehran. She has a BA and an MA degree in painting from Tehran Azad University's Arts and Architecture College. “I have had six individual exhibitions in Tehran and in Kuwait City, and I have participated in more than 20 group exhibitions in Tehran and in Los Angeles. My figurative paintings started being recognized after I started serious painting in 2010, and I need several collections, "The Clothesline," "The Way It Is," and "I Was There." These works comprised some 45 paintings using the acrylic on canvas technique, all in large dimensions. The main and shared characteristic of all these works is the deliberate elimination of the woman's face and sometimes whole head, which is a soft protest to too much emphasis placed on a woman's body, both sexually and the way she is expected to do a lot of house chores, bear children, and of course, ignoring her thoughts and awareness. The patterns and motifs represent the old and cliché ways imposed on the lives of a woman, who, despite her beauty, has been driven into restrictions and limitations. The lace is a symbolism for marriage, sex, or maybe the bedroom, and on a broader level, a woman's private domain. The woman in my works is a knowledgeable and educated woman who is aware of her conditions and protests them. She reads books and newspapers and it's as if she is saying, "I haven't given up on my dreams, and I don't want this day-to-day life to dissolve me in itself, and I want to keep on growing." Sometimes, she objects to her restrictions by tearing the lace. Her objection does not include shouting and chanting slogans; rather, it is always carried out with a feminine character and dignity. I rather like these symbolisms myself, and I think that the limitations and the censorship in Tehran have led me to give my message in a veiled way, which has in return strengthened my artistic work and has been able to get me closer to my own, personal language.”

Zeynab Movahed’s paintings have a feminine side to them, a quality which is by no means external—i.e. an addition to a representational image—but is an essential characteristic, inherent in her paintings. Unlike many of the mainstream tendencies in painting that exploit the everyday lives of women as their subject-matter, and fall short of expressing the consequences of sexual discriminations, Zeynab’s pictures manage to depict similar circumstances, cleverly and honestly. The artist intentionally abstains from displaying faces in her paintings, so that the bodies are devoid of any individual significance, and in a broader context, display sexuality as a general archetype, made of heterogeneous conceptions. Subjects are set in the compositions with gestures that a person would have when she is put in front of a camera, i.e. practically taking the best spot of the frame to be the center of attention. This, however, does not mean that the statues embrace an undisputed role. On the contrary, each one them display a once-for-all, unrepeatable existence, in a fleeting yet unique moment. This is the very distinction that was mentioned earlier about this collection and those of many other contemporary artists of the same genre. In other words, the every-day life depicted in these paintings transcends a mere representation to point out to humanity’s existence apart from sexuality. The artist’s concern for expressing and picturing the subtleties—both in form and content—cannot be left unnoticed. In this regard, another aspect of the works seems to deserve consideration, namely the artist’s painstaking attention to details in each and every one of her paintings. This method of picturing the flowers and botanical designs is undoubtedly more than a haughty play of figures and colors, and they do not find their way into the canvas just because the compositions require them, but they definitely hint at a hardship that is blended with the conventional definition of a certain sexual duty. In spite of the fact that she belongs to a young generation of artists that has recently arrived at the artistic scene, Zeynab Movahed is satisfyingly aware of the expressional capacities of painting, and subtly makes use of her skills to convey ideas and emotions thorough this medium. Critique by: Hamid-Reza Karami, Curator

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