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Oil on Canvas


47" x 77"


My work challenges the oppression of women by the Islamic patriarchy in Iran. The opposition is not explicit or radical in my paintings and drawings, rather, I seek to create a different kind of world for my figures, one that has a quiet kind of power, and is intimate and free. The heterotopic dreamscapes I construct create the possibility for escape from the reality of oppression, a space in which the women in my art and in my life are empowered and can exist freely. These paintings tell the stories of the life I left behind. In my work, I explore the bittersweet nostalgia of distant intimacies in my life. My closest friends and family are transformed into figures in surreal and hopeful visions of an alternate reality. My paintings express my personal story, but they are relatable to any woman who has been censored, sexualized, or otherwise oppressed by a patriarchal society. I carefully compose my figures in heterotopic spaces to reveal and empower the Iranian female identity. I flip the artistic tradition of objectified or idealized female forms intended to suit the male gaze. My subjects stare back and confront not only the viewer, but the notion that women should have to be anything other than their truest self. By reinventing and creating imaginary space, I construct an abstracted, highly emotive world and illuminate the plight of the Iranian woman censored by an overreaching patriarchy. Through this, I am reclaiming multiple aspects of my identity as an Iranian female and, thereby, establishing my longing for genuine selfhood.

About this Artist

Shabnam Jannesari

Shabnam Jannesari

Shabnam Jannesari is an Iranian artist who received her MFA with distinction in Studio Art at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. She exhibited her work in the United States and abroad. Most recently she had a solo exhibition, The Ribbons of Space, at Hastings College, NE as well as, The Carpet Grew Like a Garden, in Cambridge, MA. She participated in the group exhibition Narrative Imperative in Alexey von Schlippe Gallery at University of Connecticut Avery point, Domestic State in Beard and Weil Gallery at Wheaton College, MA and Crossing Cultures at A.P.E Gallery, Northampton, MA. Her paintings and drawings have recently been acquired by Fidelity’s Corporate Collection as well as the University of Massachusetts School of Law. She is a recipient of the Distinguished Art Fellowship at the University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth and the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant, Canada (2020). She incorporates both drawing and painting to explore…
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