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Mahsa Tehrani

b. 1983 Tehran, Iran

Lives and works in Tehran, Iran.

Mahsa Tehrani creates utopian worlds of contemporary life that are very different from realties that women face in Iran, where since 1981, after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the hijab has become compulsory. The most recent wave of protests that engulfed the country is named after another woman named Mahsa – Mahsa Amini who had been arrested and beaten to death for "improperly” wearing her hijab.

The gruesome everyday reality is the opposite of the fictional beautiful utopia of Tehrani’s paintings. Many of her landscapes are reminiscent of the Hieronymus Bosch’s iconic painting The Garden of Earthly Delights.  Tehrani creates her own world – where women (and men) are free of oppression. It’s not a coincidence that many of Tehrani’s landscapes have evocative titles -The Desire of Leaving, The Desire of Being, The Promise of Happiness. Yet, all people in her paintings are dressed in plain, uniform-like greyish-white clothes that makes them look like prisoners or hospital patients that managed to escape outside. 

Tehrani’s works are also reminiscent of Persian miniatures – a genre that flourished and reached its peak between 13th and 16th century, and traditionally depicts figures, (often in large numbers) in lush settings, with bright and pure coloring. According to an art historian Arthur Upham Pope: Partly due to the influence of Sufism and their system of thought, Persian miniatures are free of any particular space or time which endows them with a transcendental quality.

This transcendental quality is something that characterizes Tehrani’s works as well.

Mahsa Tehrani got her B.A in Industrial Engineering from University of Science and Culture in Tehran, Iran, and she has had two solo shows at Bavan Gallery, Tehran, as well as group shows in Tehran, Shanghai and Hong Kong.