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Slideshow | Nurieh Mozaffari's 'Unforgettable' Women of Iran

by MARI J.

06 Jun 2012 18:06Comments
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They stone the licentious, ignorant that the city teems with intellectual whores; knowing not that perverse minds devastate more greatly than perverse flesh.

--Forough Farrokhzad

[ spotlight ] "As an expatriate, in the first years of immigrating to a new country, one still feels avidly the lure of the motherland; then as life 'happens,' visits dwindle down and eventually stop -- until perhaps a loved one falls sick or needs your help. Upon returning, a culture shock hits you in the face, a hurricane of memories, smells and tastes flood your mind and tickle your senses, but always present are the disappointments that had initially made you leave. Yet every trip presents a surge of inspiration and creativity -- surges that continue to drive my work since exiting Iran."

This is how Iranian Canadian artist Nurieh Mozaffari describes the influence of her homeland, where she painted and held an art professorship, on her work. Drawn to art since she was a child, she studied painting at Alzahra University, a highly ranked all-girl's liberal arts college in Tehran, and earned her master's in art and architecture at Azad University. Though she received her formal training in realist painting, her work has long involved abstraction.

Mozaffari's latest exhibition, Unforgettable, presented at the French Embassy in Washington, D.C., last month, featured a striking collection of portraits, many verging on the abstract, that depict the theme of "Iranian women in history." Portraits of public figures -- from Empress Farah Diba Pahlavi and poet Forough Farrokhzad to less familiar figures who served as "role models" for women's empowerment, such as the country's first stage singer, Irandokht -- are interspersed with depictions of the Iranian "everywoman," ranging from anonymous, individual representations to mosaics of unnamed faces. They are expressive of the empowering ideals that contrast with the socially acceptable role of the average Iranian women, ideals championed by strong women whom the artist believes "have gone or will go down in the history of Iranian culture."

Copyright © 2012 Tehran Bureau

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