Image rights: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, 2012. NoRuz at the Met Benefit, 2014. 2014.525
About Shiva Ahmadi
Shiva Ahmadi updates the Persian tradition of miniature painting in images that critique political and religious powers. Painting primarily in watercolor on paper and aqua board, with ornate floral patterns applied in gold ink, Ahmadi conjures fantastical realms governed by tyrannical rulers and inhabited by animals and hybrid creatures. Drawing on her experiences of the destruction and chaos wrought by war—she lived in Iran during the Iran-Iraq War—Ahmadi populates her paintings with faceless figures brandishing bombs and hand grenades, and maroon splatterings of paint that suggest blood, both of which belie the works’ otherwise decorative visual character. Conveyed with dexterous brushstrokes, her figures also often transmute into abstraction, suggesting the turmoil that can underlie the thin surface of social order. Ahmadi’s work displays the influences of Indian, Persian, and Turkish painting, and comparisons have been drawn with the miniatures of contemporary Pakistani painter Shahzia Sikander.
Iranian, b. 1975, Tehran, Iran, based in California, United States