Zahra is a designer and illustrator from Iran. Her professional experience includes graphic designing for a number of art companies. As she developed and groomed her work, she decided to focus her creative efforts on bringing fiction characters to life through her art and graphic designing.
Some of the projects led her to make decorative sculptures and wall hangings that allure and brighten interior spaces. Before starting out, she had researched and thought about the primary material and tested different bases. Finally, she made her own paste which is similar to Paper Mache.
The base enables her to make wall hangings of up to two meters long, appropriate for both large houses and public venues such as coffee shops. The process involves several stages, including drawing the characters she plans to create, making the base and kneading it, making and removing the mold, painting using acrylic technique, and doing final corrections. Each of these steps takes a few days depending on the complexity of the design and size of the wall hanging. Zahra enjoys the light but important steps that make her art, and each piece takes hours to bring itself to fruition. She sells some of her work, and keeps some for her personal collection.
The magic of colors and the mystic world of fantasy and dreams made me an illustrator of children’s books; a potent force that I explore since my childhood that is still with me. When I was 8 or 9 years old, most of time I was painting and making crafts. One of my interests was creating puppets. Every day I made up a story and in the morning at school, before class started, I performed a play to my classmates. Years later, my passion for colors, lines and shapes made me choose the Art University of Teheran and try new approaches to creation and art expression. After graduation I worked with art direction and graphic design for books and magazines.
In 2008 I decided to leave Iran to find new horizons. From this year onwards I stopped my graphic work and started writing and illustrating my stories. I had my first published book, La piccola Pittrice, by an Italian publisher in 2010. This was the beginning of my professional career abroad. My next book was an Iranian story, King Bahram, published in Frence in 2009. During my experience in Italy, I worked on many books with publishers from Italy, France, United Arabic Emirates, South Africa, Lebanon and Brazil. It was a rich experience for me, when I could meet illustrators from different countries, participate in several Illustration Exhibitions, especially at the Bologna Children´s Book Fair, attend various programs, meetings and round tables, when I also could publish new books every year.
In 2015, at the invitation of Editora Positivo, a Brazilian publisher, I went to Brazil for a workshop in São Paulo and to launch the book Pe and the wide world. At the end of 2015 I moved to Brazil, to a southern city called Curitiba. It is a beautiful place, pleasant in every season, full of trees, colourful flowers and an unbelievable number of birds filling the space with their songs. This is where I live today, creating my projects for children, planning my next travels, enjoying a good coffee in the afternoons. I have a great taste for travel, I believe that visiting new countries influences my art and matures my worldview, although I always try to keep my cultural roots, the Persian heritage that I bring in my blood.
– Fereshteh Najafi
King of the Sands I & II
1001 Night Stories
Le roi Bahram
un paio di pantofole
Fereshteh Najafi, an Iranian illustrator, attained a Bachelor of Graphic Design and Master in Illustration at the Azad Art University of Tehran. In 2008, she immigrated to Genova, Italy, where she directed her creative work through illustration for children’s books. In recent years Fereshteh has worked both on illustration and giving workshops in Italy, Brazil and United Arab Emirates.
She began exhibiting internationally in 2006 and since then has been selected at over 20 international illustration exhibitions, including the prestigious Biennial of Illustration of Bratislava, the Bologna Children’s Book Fair Illustrators Exhibition, the “Le Immagini della Fantasia” in Sarmede, Italy, the Nami Concours in South Korea and in countries such as United Arab Emirates, Germany, Serbia, South Africa, Australia, Japan and India. Najafi has illustrated more than 25 titles, in Iran, Lebanon, Iraq, Brazil, United Arab Emirates, France, South Africa and Italy. Najafi is admired for her strong and unique visual vocabulary of heavily textured brushwork and a distinctive and confident use of colour. Since 2015 she lives in Brazil.
Sheida Mohammadi, born in 2000, is currently majoring in Graphic Design at the College of Fine Arts, University of Tehran. From a very young age, she was attracted towards the arts, and more specifically illustration. Even though her major is in graphic design, she mostly focuses on illustration. Doll-making has been a long term love of hers, and lately, she has been working on a series to show the stories of Iran, her country and people through the same. She believes that there is a strong voice of the feminine in her work, modelled on her fascination with women who broke norms. At 20, she knows this is just the beginning of her professional journey, and is delighted that she can create something that others take something positive and heartwarming out of from.
In these portraits, Bagheri alludes to historical notions of pre-modern desire and the alternative gender norms to the current Western models. Greatly invested in Persian literature and poetry, Bagheri’s large-scale drawings have a historical element reminiscent of Persian miniature paintings in their details and intricacies. Using these poetic and literary tropes in conjunction with elements of Persian visual culture, Bagheri’s work complicates notions of Persian culture, contemporary Iranian identity, and the conflicting themes of gender and sexuality that might arise at their intersection. Bagheri, in his “Eastern Desires” series (2014-2017), uses delicate drawing techniques coupled with immense detail to depict scenes of Iranian men that fluctuate between being contemporary subjects, and archival source material referencing Iran prior to the industrial revolution and modern period. These intimate scenes, at times evocative of hammam or bathhouse settings, are coupled with visual motifs reminiscent of Quajar dynasty Persian paintings that point to a masculinity of the subject that is unlike traditional depictions of Iranian men. Later works like “Someone Who is Like No-One” series (2017-2018) take similar archival references and delicate drawing techniques, coupled with jarring visual tropes that look out of place. This theme of not-belonging is extended in the artist’s use of traditional notions of hiding, and various critiques of the binaries between private/public culture and visibility/invisibility. Using these different strategies, Bagheri unsettles traditional depictions of Iranian men and examines the shift in gender norms from pre-modern Iran, and puts these shifts in dialogue with contemporary identities.
Ebrin Bagheri, born in 1983, is an Iranian/Canadian visual artist currently living and working in Toronto, Canada. Bagheri has completed a Masters of Fine Arts degree at York University, and holds visual arts degrees from other Canadian institutions, including a Bachelor of Fine Arts from OCAD University and an arts diploma from George Brown College. Bagheri has been a part of multiple-group shows in Iran and Canada, as well as a solo exhibition in Tehran. Working primarily in drawing and painting, Bagheri has been exploring issues pertinent to Iranian culture and identity. Particularly, Bagheri uses portraiture to explore themes of masculinity and gender.
Looking at his previous drawings and paintings, one can trace his layered efforts first to master the human anatomy as a structure made of flesh and skin and bones (by depicting nearly naked, sometimes life-sized bodies), then to reflect different moods and emotions on their skins (by shedding strong chromatic lights onto bodies and faces) and, ultimately, to explore the interaction among humans and between humans and their real or imagined surrounding spaces; spaces that are often so cold and claustrophobic that the viewer might associate them with the inside of a coffin or a morgue. Khezri’s works are also playfields for contrasting warmer and cooler tones, a strong visual language of vertical versus horizontal in often static, lying positions of the figures, as well as the tension between organic body forms, straight lines and mostly rectilinear geometric shapes.
Moslem Khezri was born in 1984 in Kerman, Iran and is a painter and a university lecturer. He holds an MA in Painting from Tarbiat Modares University in Tehran and a BA in Painting from the University of Sistan and Baluchestan in Zahedan. His paintings were featured in many solo and group exhibitions in Iran and abroad, for example in the 2020 Art Dubai and in the 2019 Art Feast 7 in Tehran.
These photographs are a selection from a decade-long photography project in the genre of Photomontage. Photomontage is a genre that shapes the photograph based on pre-existent ideologies in the mind of the photographer that are later taken to the field and later processed digitally. Each singular photomontage is constructed from various photographs with a converging concept. The dominant theme of most of these photographs is the human being. Aspirations, dreams, desires, needs, tension, memories and all that humanity encounters within its lifespan. Dreams and the unconscious are another running theme in the photographs. According to Freud, the unconscious is brimming with oppressed sexual desires and other oppressed needs that often reveal themselves in dreams: something that can be observed in the majority of these photographs, the dreamlike environment whose building blocks and essence signifies oppressed desires. There are also other elements such as animals that are each symbols of the world of the human unconscious.
– Samar Ghorbanzadeh
Samad Ghorbanzadeh, born in Oroumieh in 1984, holds a Bachelor of Graphic Design from Ferdowsi University in Mashhahd and a Masters in Photography from Tehran University of Art. His work has been featured in numerous personal and group exhibition and Installations such as Art Fact Tashkent, Mohsen Art Gallery, Silk Road (Rah-e-Abrisham) Gallery, Shirin Art Gallery, Seyhoun Art Gallery, Dana Art gallery, Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, Saba Art Academy. He also participated in Uzbekistan’s Photography Biennial, Italy’s Arte Laguna, Sony Photography exhibit London and Iran’s Photography Biennial.
Technique: Digital; Grandmother’s eyes are weak and she is sad that she can not read the Quran. Glasses and words from the Qur’an are sent to by the birds of God. (This is a little boy’s prayer)
In the twilight
Technique: Digital; At twilight, when the air is between darkness and light, man does not know if there is a wolf or a lamb from the distance, so he is afraid. Clothing also keeps one safe in places where there is no knowledge of the conditions, or more importantly, good and bad thoughts. During the twilight time, the woman sits comfortably in the safe shade of her dress and combs her hair. She is likened to a flower, and here the shadow is drawn in the shape of a flower.
Indigenous Music and World Thinking
Technique: Digital; This work is about indigenous music and global thinking. One of the musical instruments in Iran is “Daf”, which here is in the hands of an Iranian woman. The trees around the woman are symbols of music devices in different countries. In a sign of world peace, a representative from each country can be elected and hold concert.
Sabotage of a Son
Technique: Digital; In this work, a boy sneaks and trims his father’s moustache with scissors while he is asleep. In the past, men were very sensitive of their moustaches, and this gentleman is one of the great figures of the Qajar era in Iran.
The Tragedy of Mena
Technique: Digital; In September 2015, an unfortunate event that killed a large number of pilgrims from suffocation and by being crushed during the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Mina, Mecca, Saudi Arabia, made it the deadliest hajj disaster in history.
Ahlam Faez lives in Iran, is a graduate of graphics and has been illustrating for about ten years now. She has collaborated with several magazines and illustrated the book “Moon and Fish,” “Blue-Eyed Boy” and five volumes of the collection “Little Hands of Prayer.” She has also been the director of the “Hooma” Illustration Group and won several national and international awards for her work and exhibitions. Her Instagram is: @_ahlam.faez_
“We may consider the invention of the mirror as one of the mysterious achievements of humanity, since it has created a possibility to see the ‘I‘ in different positions. An exchange between the subject and an object is formed in such a case, almost like observing infinity in paralleled mirrors.”
– Nooshin Zarnani
Nooshin Zarnani was born in Iran and graduated from Shahid Beheshti University with a degree in chemistry. She has art certificates in contemporary art, visual art, and art history, as well as experience in directing short films and video arts.
Her work has been featured in many exhibitions and art fairs in Iran, Malaysia, and Italy. Zarnani also has extensive experience as a curator and an art director in different galleries and at auctions. Most of her work is focused on women and women’s rights.
A Middle Eastern woman who seeks peace and love in her paintings to beautify her world. I am the Middle East!
– Saba Soleimany
Saba Soleimany was born in Iran and is a book illustrator, painter, and jewelry designer. She has participated in numerous illustration and painting exhibitions in Iran and abroad. Saba is a member of the Iranian Illustrators Association. Since 2008, she has worked for a few domestic and foreign publishers as an illustrator.
Parima gets her inspiration from history and the realities around her. She tries to exhibit her feelings through different materials and tools, getting lost in the creative process and subsequently creating something new. Her own country is a huge inspiration to her and she tries to use the colours, textures and patterns of Iran interspersing it with those from the world around.
“The elements used for this portrayal are essentially Eastern, though the states expressed are universal: anxiety, loneliness, strength, frustrated desire, suppressed anger, resolved expectation and revenge.”
Jewellery 1, 2 and 3 “My Jewellery inspiration comes from my love to history. I used the Persian carpet technique to weaving my jewellery. I weaving all of my crystal, beads and stone together.”
Queen Elizabeth – 1 and 2 The love story of Queen Elizabeth l and Kings Fath-Ali Qajar Medium: Mixed Media : Swarovski Crystal, Acrylic, Watercolour, Ink, Coloured Pencil Size: 52X62, Year of creation: 2010, London, UK
The Lost Woman – 1 and 2 “Coloured Pencil, Watercolour | Collage Size: 38X54 cm”
Parima Shahin Moghaddam was born in Tehran- Iran 1961, and started her artistic career at an early age of 16. She does variations of art: painting, illustration, graphic design, jewellery design, costume and set design for movies & theatre, puppet design and art direction. She has also been an art teacher for young children between ages of 3-16. Parima moved to London- UK in 1998, continuing a career as an artist with a stronger focus on jewellery making & design which she has had the opportunity to showcase in many couture and jewellery shops in London.
Parima also created workshops in design for children at the British Museum and The Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Currently, she works on a diverse range of art projects, mostly at her home studio.