- by Alexander Joseph Kinzel
OBSESSIONS OF MEMORY AND DISPLACEMENT
There is something in Hadieh Afshani’s eyes, an absence or loss and it is this feeling that carries into her sparse but complex drawings and painting. Within those eyes, which are dark like her shoulder length hair, there are cityscapes backgrounded by a rusty sky, there are phantoms more shadow than form, there are blues that stretch like a memory back to a childhood in a place of sand and domed roves. Born in Tehran, Iran, Hadieh is now based in New York City after spending ten years teaching and studying in Australia. Her works showcases that nomadic nature she embodies, that feeling of looking for a home that may not be there anymore, that absence inside when you leave the places you love.
In Hadieh’s work, what is shown is as important as what is not. What is there, the streets and scenes of patchworked stone silence is made only more haunting by the absences, that longing that she carries with her.
In her younger years, this wonderful painter, was set to major in mathematics and physics but felt a lack, quickly understanding that her passion for art could not be exceeded. So, in her own words she “decided to take the risk of becoming an artist, against all the advice, it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.” And since then, she has lived as an artist, a teacher and curator in many cities and circles all across the world.
In the last decade, Hadieh’s work has garnered international praise and awards, including the Aspect Art Prize and the St. George Art Award. Critics, artists, and the general public have recognized her contributions to art, with her work receiving attention from art publications and media outlets such as the Australian Artist Magazine and Art Katalyst Magazine. She has also cultivated a successful practice as an art instructor and workshop leader, influencing a new generation of artists at distinguished institutions such as the Griffith University (Australia), University of Manitoba (Canada), Queensland Art Gallery QAGOMA (Australia), Union County College (New Jersey), and Gallery MC (New York), to name a few.
Lately she has mostly been engaging with representational paintings and drawings, inspired by architectural spaces and the ideas of memories and the past. She gets obsessed with different experiences in life, whether these experiences are hers or not, she feels connected and inspired by all the stories around her. One of her biggest inspirations is the idea of how our memories and identities are made, how we are connected to unknown/unfamiliar places and people, without even realizing it.
When asked about her creative process, Afshani once again speaks to an obsession with place and lack, “I redo a work a few times until it feels right. I use many layers of glazing and sandpapering or even destroying and refinding it in many different ways.” This layering of memory, of sand and sky and formless figures in doorways, is more than representation of a woman trying to come to terms with a home she no knows as her own, but is an entrance point to these missing places themselves.