After the revolution of 1979 in Iran and the establishment of the Islamic Republic in the early 1980s, most art forms especially performing arts, were either prohibited (e.g. pop music or singing and dancing by women), or they became very limited and restricted in dealing with certain subject matters such as nudity and sexuality altogether in cinema and fine arts (e.g. painting & sculpture). In general, IRI hasn’t created a nurturing environment for the arts to say the least. Artists have continuously struggled to defend their works for publication, exhibit, screening, or distribution.
Despite all the hurdles and obstacles, Iranian arts especially cinema and music have experienced notable success over the last few decades. You can nowadays find Iranian films and filmmakers in just about any film festival around the world. And we have world-renowned Iranian musicians who regularly perform and tour around the world.
And then we have our visual artists such as painters and sculptors who though are lesser known partly due to the art form, they continue to create wonderful art in Iran and abroad. I will be featuring such artists here on ParsTimeout. The first in the series is Maryam Naghshineh from Orange County, California. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Maryam for a couple of years. Maryam was born in Munich, Germany to Iranian parents and then moved to Iran at the age of 2. She grew up in an artistic family. In fact, her grandfather (dad’s side) was Mr. Gholam-Hossein Naghshineh, a famous actor who played the lead role of Daei Jan in the highly praised and popular TV comedy series, Daei Jan Napoleon, in late 1970s before the revolution.
Maryam took art classes since she was 7. As an adult, she studied art in the School of Visual Arts (Honarestan Honoarhay Tajassomi) in Tehran. She then moved to US, where she continued her studies and received a bachelor degree in graphic and fine arts in 1999.
Her paintings are colorful, feminine, passionate, full of life and expression of love, often featuring abstract human forms. Occasionally she also uses subtle elements of Persian calligraphy (a traditional Iranian art form that is experiencing a comeback in art and even in fashion). Her use of calligraphy is simply for the abstract forms of the Persian letters and not to say anything or quote anyone. She generally doesn’t name her paintings as she thinks that a name on a work of art may limit the viewer’s perspective.
Though there are common themes in her paintings, her paintings are also diverse as she likes to evolve and change her style. Maryam uses a variety of mediums such as oil or acrylic. Many of her works are collages that may also include fabric and metal. But regardless of the forms and mediums used, her paintings are distinctly and unmistakeably Persian. And I consider that a reflection of her own authentic Iranian identity.
In terms of artistic influences and the artists she likes, she notes Westerns artists such as Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, and Jackson Pollock, as well as Iranian artists such as Mohammad Eshasi, a calligraphy artist, and Parviz Kalantari. I also notice certain similarities in her paintings to the works of Nasser Ovissi, a very successful Iranian artist based in USA. But she certainly has developed her own unique style.
Maryam currently lives in Southern California where she continues to create art and often exhibits her works in various local art shows. She is also active in the street chalk art festivals. You can see more images of her works in her site.