Arghavan Khosravi

Artist Website

My practice is intrinsically linked to my life experiences, yet opens a space to recast memories and process paradoxes of my childhood in Tehran, and ground my perspective as an Iranian now living in the US.

I was born soon after the Islamic Revolution, witnessed my country's transformation from a Western-friendly monarchy into a suppressive theocratic republic. My paintings describe the double life I led throughout my childhood and teenage years, adhering to Islamic Law in public, while still being able to think and act freely in private.

My paintings weave multilingual narratives, combining traditional Islamic motifs (architecture, textiles and decorative objects, references to mythology and religious painting) with surrealist and contemporary visual elements. This blending of Eastern and Western imagery, past and present, religious and secular, reality and fantasy, is symbolic of my deeply felt psychological tension.

Compositionally the work draws influence from the tradition of Persian miniature painting; utilizing stacked perspective, cutaway views of architecture, bold color, rich detail, and frontal or three quarter views of faces. I attempt to complicate the picture with contemporary messages and visual metaphors relating to themes such as freedom of expression, power dynamics between genders, suppression and identity. Another persistent theme is self- censorship, which is alluded to by imagery of veils, rope, and obscured faces.

I’m not interested in perpetuating notions of cultural exoticism and portrayals of Iranian women as victims. Rather my work is a vehicle for shifting power, validating personal storytelling and connecting to universal messages about human rights.