Stories from the Boudoir: Nargess Hashemi

10 September - 9 October 2008

An exhibition supported by Audi Art Experience and Ruinart.


To start the season, B21 is proud to host the first solo show of Iranian painter Nargess Hashemi. Twenty nine year old Nargess Hashemi obtained her MA in painting at the renowned AZAD University in her hometown of Tehran. Her works have been included in several group exhibitions of contemporary Iranian art. This is the artist's first solo exhibition in Dubai, following successful shows in London and Tehran.

Dots, stripes and simple geometric forms combine in her paintings to create richly coloured, multi-faceted patterns that radiate with optical intensity. Both subject and space pulsate with an infinite field of markings, supplying a boundless energy to the two-dimensional form.


Neat fields of motifs and broad stripes of patterns and colours are the building blocks for spellbinding wallpapers, fabrics and tissues. These densely composed elements have an undulating fluidity that transgresses their own linear confines. Thousands of tiny markings, fastidiously etched, sway, lift and bow in unison, as if collectively dancing or blowing in the breeze.


In these indeterminate spaces, the artist portrays faceless women in confined but comfortable ambiance, as well as mythological animals and imposing dagger dancers, occasionally circumscribed by calligraphy.


A glimpse into Nargess Hashemi’s world is perhaps helpful in understanding her very particular style, which is as much a product of her cultural heritage as it is of her life and times. 


Nargess literally grew up on the Persian carpet; one can imagine her as a child organizing her dolls on those intricate patterns along the carpet’s borders. Her visual horizon thus began with those captivating geometric swaths of fabric. Another inspiration for Hashemi, no doubt discovered sometime after her first years crawling about on the floor, was the Shahnameh. The epic history of Iran, composed entirely in verse during the 10th century AD, begins with the mythological heroes associated with the founding of Persia, becoming more ‘historical’ in the intervening centuries. Throughout all, miniature painting, a refined, delicate, and very controlled method, was used to illustrate the various tales.  Similarly, the long, intense hours Hashemi must spend in her studio is not unlike the process involved in creating those miniatures centuries ago. Her works are visual narratives that are a simultaneous deconstruction and reconstruction of time and space.


The more one sees, feels, and interacts with Hashemi’s art, the more one appreciates her dedication to craft and finish. The integration of the varied components of the work stands as her signature. Simple, fresh, and hypnotic, Hashemi’s compositions offer a silent invitation to get lost in their rhythmic pulse.


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