Arghavan Koshravi

Arghavan Khosravi isn’t interested in perpetuating notions of cultural exoticism and portrayals of Iranian women as victims, rather be conceived as a vehicle for shifting power, validating personal storytelling and connecting to universal messages about human rights. 

—  Excerpt from Stems Gallery's Press Release for Arghavan's show "This Shall Also Pass", 2020.

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The hazy space between reality and make believe has always been one of comfort. This can be traced back to growing up in a culture where superstitions are woven into familial stories, and the tales of the unreal become a history in itself. The same feeling is elicited in Arghavan’s works; although deeply personal they are also steeped in symbolism, surrealism, and cultural references.

In the body from her show “Tightrope Walking the Red Lines” at Lyles & King, she explores how the past, the myth, and the current political landscape affects Iranian culture and her self-identity. 

In "A Family Portrait", Arghavan gives the viewer a view into her cultural history as much as her own personal story. The base of the painting comes from The Book of Kings, or Shahnameh, an epic poem about the foundation of Iran through a blend of mythical and historical retelling. The 11th century poem immediately became a cultural milestone upon its publishing in Persia, and the illustrated manuscripts became a pivotal moment in Iranian’s artistic self definition.

Interspersed, one can see the influence of Chinese illustration which later influenced art in the Indian sub-content. Overlain are sleeping figures, most notably an absent male figure and a child holding a piece of the past. In this we see a reminder of the influence cultural histories play in the shaping of ourselves as seen through a semi-autobiographical presentation from Arghavan.

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(First) Miniature from a copy of Firdawsi’s Shahnama. The Battle Between Kay Khusraw and the King of Makran”. 1494.
(Second) Miniature from a copy of Firdawsi’s Shahnama. Rustam Kills the Turanian Hero Alkus with his Lance. 1450.

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Y — A — 2020