with Arghavan Khosravi
Bound by Cord, the Women of Arghavan Khosravi’s Paintings Exemplify the Borderless Fight for Equality
Through layered, mixed-media paintings, Iranian artist Arghavan Khosravi (previously) alludes to the multivalent effects of losing freedom and human rights. Elastic cord binds her protagonists to their own limbs or surroundings, their individual characteristics partially concealed or fragmented as a result of restriction. Her subjects are often women who are confined to domestic spaces, hidden behind painted wooden panels, or physically tied to a situation or person.
Working in vibrant, saturated colors, Khosravi blends surreal imagery with the motifs of Persian textiles and architecture. The artist tells Colossal that although she still grounds her work in her experiences in Iran, she’s begun to broaden the conceptual aspects of her practice. “My goal is to have a more universal approach so women coming from different countries, cultures, and generations can relate to the paintings. The fight for gender equality is universal, and there is still a long road ahead of us,” she says.
Khosravi has a limited-edition print available through Art for Change, and her first institutional show is up through September 5 at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester. She opens a solo exhibition at Rockefeller Center on September 6 and has another slated for later this year at Stems Gallery in Belgium. Until then, find more of her work on Instagram.
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Artist Arghavan Khosravi creates multi-part worlds in her carefully composed paintings. Contemporary human figures commingle with ghostly limbs and classical Greco-Roman sculptures. Bright red lines of string, Persian decorative motifs, and found textiles connect the disparate figures. The artist begins each painting with an intensive brainstorming and research phase, which results in a detailed sketch that outlines about 85% of the completed work.
“Before I start a new painting, I keep thinking about what I want to say in it. It can have a specific narrative or just convey a mood or feeling—it mostly reflects on a memory, life event or something I have recently read,” Khosravi explains. “While I have this general idea/theme in my mind, I go through a lot of source images and put aside those that trigger something in my mind. I juxtapose those images to come up with the main visual structure and composition.”
One of Khosravi’s main sources of inspiration is societal issues in Iran: “Human rights and, more specifically, women’s rights issues, patriarchy, and some levels of gender apartheid. I am more interested in addressing these concerns in a symbolic and subtler way and have an indirect approach.” She also studies and incorporates art historical traditions, ranging from Persian miniature painting and Islamic architecture to medieval painting and ancient sculpture.
The artist shares with Colossal that she began to take art seriously at the early age of 12, but felt pressure to pursue a more practical career like engineering. She pivoted slightly with a commercial creative career: after studying graphic design in college, Khosravi worked in the field for almost a decade, while also earning a Master’s in Fine Arts in illustration, and illustrating nearly two dozen children’s books. Last year, Khosravi achieved her dream of becoming a painter and completed her Master’s in Fine Arts in painting at the Rhode Island School of Design.
Khosravi has most recently exhibited in a group show at the Museum of Contemporary Art Yinchuan in China, and in SPRING/BREAK, a part of New York’s Armory week. You can see more of her detailed, multi-layered paintings on Instagram. (via Booooooom)
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Highlights below. For the full collection click here.