Afarin Sajedi’s portraits of women are rarely pretty in the conventional sense or pleasant to look at. One might even call them deformed or strange, appearing almost alien-esque with their large heads and round eyes. Previously featured on our blog, the Iranian artist once described her work as “a little bit science fiction, a little bit realism”, mainly working from her imagination to create her emotive characters.
Sajedi’s previous portraits presented women’s faces in extraordinary situations where utensils like forks and spikes pierced their faces, or fish were coming out of their ears- images that should be painful for the sitter, and yet her face read emotions of peace and strength. In her newer works, the artist presents her subjects in a more calming environment, dressed with accessories inspired by the future as in their surreal headgear. The series will make its debut at Dorothy Circus gallery in Rome in Sajedi’s first major solo there opening on April 16th, titled “Illusion.”
Sajedi defines the word “illusion” as one that is interlaced with the word “peace”: “a new viewpoint in which ‘dreaming’ and ‘loving are bolder- two primary forces of the feminine world,” she says. The women in her acrylic paintings stand as the artist’s observations about the human soul, bringing to light themes about socio-political conditions and the experience of inner feelings. Her subject’s feelings, and their ability to feel, is what makes them pillars of self-worth and strength, even in their silence, according to Sajedi.
In painting female subjects, Sajedi’s work is often viewed as feminist, however it is the woman’s emotions that take center stage. “The worst criticism comes from people who interpret my work in terms of issues of women,” she says. “Although I see changes in attitudes toward women, I don’t consider myself a feminist and I don’t consider my work defending feminist ideas. What attracts me is human concerns and questions, not any specific geographic location or gender.” In essence, her paintings are more about the feelings we have but cannot express.