Zahra has always loved painting people. Even as a child she would cut out the drawings she would do of people, render them durable with sticky tape and play with them instead of dolls. Today, she continues to be fascinated with people. Their identity, their position in society, their futures.
In her first major body of work, titled Queen of the Kitchen, she questions the status quo, the position of women in society and how they position themselves within their own constraints. These paintings are, however, purposefully without background. The people in the paintings could be anywhere. What unites them is the irony and humour with which they deal with their circumstance.
In this series, Zahra confronts a difficult and age-old topic. With her beautiful painting technique and emphasis on aesthetic, she reminds us that even the most difficult of subjects needs to be addressed with refinement and charm: “It’s just my way of getting people to engage with my issues.”
In 2012, Zahra married and her focus moved towards off-spring. She painted another untitled series of beautiful paintings in which she explored the mannerism and behaviour of children: “They are the beginning of everything and I began to wonder what the world must be like for them.”
On the back of this observant journey into the world of children, Zahra completed her next important series, titled False Gods. In this series she raises the issue of how the children of today are, more than ever before, bombarded with conflicting role models, morals, behaviours, but often with no filter.
In all her work, Zahra appears to be putting on a brave face. She seems to be saying: no matter what – we all have to make the best of the conditions we are born into. Why make things ugly?
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Zahra Shafie lives and works in Tehran. She is producing a new series of work to be exhibited between 5-15 March 2015 at the YPA pop-up show at Stattbad Wedding in Berlin under the theme Hope Dreams Desire.