‘So many people were erased’: Iranian artist draws on childhood to show trauma

Nastaran Shahbazi’s works feature in Hong Kong show Recollections, alongside art from Hongkonger Ivy Ma and Colombian Ana Gonzalez

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 November, 2015, 5:46am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 November, 2015, 5:46am

“I don’t mean to be dark – it just comes from within,” says Iranian artist Nastaran Shahbazi as she walks around the spacious Mur Nomade gallery in Hong Kong. “I grew up in Iran in the ’80s – there was still war between Iran and Iraq. My father was a political prisoner so for about five years my important memories were built from that time in prison.

“Many people with different political agendas were killed in that time – when I was five years old I understood what it meant to be hanged. … so many people were erased. My mother put me in a printing course so I could express myself …”

Shahbazi’s hauntingly beautiful etchings are imbued with mystery. Ranging from delicate yet unsettling monochromatic etchings, to bold and vividly coloured expressionist paintings, they deal with war, oppression and displacement; at the same time, they are personal expressions of loss and despair.

The etchings form part of “Recollections”, a group exhibition by three woman artists - Ana González from Colombia, Hongkonger Ivy Ma and Shahbazi – at Mur Nomade gallery in Aberdeen until December 24. A short story by writer Cally Yu complements the exhibition.

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Through the media of etching, porcelain, embroidery, painting and video, the exhibition deals with the subject of memory in post-trauma contexts. The three artists are concerned with life after tragedy, and express personal reflections on history and remembering.

Feminine and delicate in form, the works are infused with strength and commitment.

Recollections, until December 24, Mur Nomade, Unit 1606, 16/F, Hing Wai Centre, 7 Tin Wan Praya Road, Aberdeen. Tel: 2580 5923