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Published on July 13, 2021

Arghavan Khosravi

Compulsory Halo, acrylic on canvas and found wood block printed textile (which is a praying mat) stretched over wood panel, 47.7 × 45 × 2 in, 2019, image courtesy of the artist

I’m reflecting on my life experiences and memories from Iran. And in Iran, human rights issues, and women’s rights issues in particular, are in a really horrible situation. So for me, the starting point was reflecting on those memories and reacting to them. I hope that with the visual metaphors and symbols I use in the paintings, some people can feel that notion and, based on their own experiences, relate to the paintings in whatever way they’re able. Those are the main issues on my mind.

Miniature painting, mostly Persian miniature painting, has always been one of my main sources of inspiration. And actually these more three-dimensional paintings somehow started from works that were based on miniature paintings… the architecture in those works. That gave me the idea to use shaped panels to emphasize some of the architectural depictions. The way architecture in those paintings is shown is much more like a “stacked perspective,” rather than separate vantage points. So that was how I started to think of paintings as 3D objects, not 2D surfaces.

Because there are those existing images and I juxtapose them. And when I’m juxtaposing these images, this idea of contrast, or having imagery in contrast is always at the top of my mind. So whether it’s from Western imagery, or from a Western context into Eastern, like having Greek sculptures in an architectural scene that is appropriated from miniature paintings, I like the way it all comes together from different points of view.


In general, I’m not interested in victimizing women and Iranian women, because I’m Iranian. And I do think they are in very oppressed situations, but I want to show that they have agency and they try, with activism, to change that. I’m not interested in just showing Iranian women as victims because there is this general idea through the media which sometimes is distorted or not quite accurate. I hope that with my paintings I can change that image.

Noor Brara, I Felt in Between Places’: Iranian Artist Arghavan Khosravi on Studying Art in the U.S., and Why She Paints Preoccupied Women, interview with Arghavan Khosravi, Artnet, July 7, 2021