This Shall Also Pass
Stems Gallery is pleased to present the first European solo exhibition of Arghavan Khosravi. Arghavan Khosravi was born in 1984 in Tehran, Iran. She arrived in the United States in 2015 and has remained ever since, restricted by the Travel Ban that was signed in 2017. Her practice is intrinsically linked to personal life experiences, yet opens a space to recast memories and process paradoxes of Khosravi’s childhood in Tehran, and grounds the perspective as an Iranian now living in the US. The paintings describe the double life she led throughout her childhood and teenage years, adhering to Islamic Law in public, while still being able to think and act freely in private. Khosravi’s paintings weave multilingual narratives, combining traditional Islamic motifs with surrealist and contemporary visual elements. This blending of Eastern and Western imagery, past and present, religious and secular, reality and fantasy, is symbolic of the tensions the artist faces as an Iranian woman born under ideological autocracy. “This Shall Also Pass” is a Persian aphorism which reflects on the transitory nature of the human condition. Khosravi’s work seems to witness this ephemerality through a subtle, intimate and metaphoric representation of her country’s transformation. Compositionally the work draws influence from the tradition of Persian miniature painting; utilizing stacked perspective, cutaway views of architecture, bold color, rich detail. The picture is completed with contemporary messages and visual metaphors relating to themes such as freedom of expression, power dynamics between genders, suppression, and identity. Another persistent theme is self-censorship, which is alluded to by imagery of veils, rope, and obscured faces. 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. The series “Anatomy of a Woman” focuses on women’s rights issues. Inspired by the artist’s memories and life experiences in Iran. The hair, eyes and skin tones are very similar to painting to another. Unlike Khosravi’s previous works, this series is focused on portraiture, where the characters express some sort of feelings instead of the neutral expression usually depicted in more composed scenes. These representations are bound gently by omnipresent structures of power be they the enforcement of sharia law or subtle undermining women within a broader patriarchal society.
Khosravi received her MFA at Rhode Island School of Design, and previously earned a BFA in Graphic Design from Tehran Azad University and an MFA in Illustration from the University of Tehran. Her work has been exhibited at Museum of Contemporary Art, Yinchuan, CN; Newport Art Museum, Newport, RI; Provincetown Art Association and Museum, MA; Lyles and King, NY; Yossi Milo Gallery, NY, and Fridman Gallery, NY.