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Portrait of an Iranian-American: Bay Area Artist Mahshid Modares



Mahshid Modares is an artist, art historian and art collector.  She received her B.F.A. in painting from Azad University, Tehran, in 1995, and her M.A. in art history from San Jose State University, California, in 2006.

Since 1990, Mahshid has focused her talent on being a mixed media artist.  Her three major series, Black Reality, Gabeh and Termeh, are the artist's journey to comprehend her heritage and roots as an Iranian woman artist.  In her paintings, the artist reminds the viewer of the splendor and excellence of Iranian traditional arts, often mislabeled as handcraft.  She invites her audience to see Iranian indigenous art thoroughly and admire the generations of artists in many different fields of art, all of whom share a keen understanding of form, color, coordination, and mathematics behind the geometrical and arabesque patterns.  With her compositions, Mahshid intends to communicate the same sense of harmony and rhythm that can be found in traditional Iranian art.

Mahshid is also an art historian and researcher. She plans to continue her academic career by continuing her research and publications while pursuing a Ph.D.  She is concentrating her studies on the history of visual arts in Iran during the 18th-20th centuries.  Her M.A. thesis Qajar Painting in the Second Half of the Nineteenth Century and Realism discusses the correlation between Iranian paintings of the Qajar period with European art.  Mahshid's thesis was nominated for The Outstanding Thesis Award in 2006.  She, also, received two scholarships and one fellowship for her papers.

Termeh no.6 Acrylic, Silk & Cotton Thread, 2007 26x26 inches (Four pieces, each piece12x12inches)


Termeh Series: 

Dedicated to all Iranian Women and my mother, Ozra Mehrpasand, who taught me embroidery.

My 2006-2008 project is a series of ten canvases named Termeh no. 1, Termeh no. 2 and so on, which are a combination of acrylic painting and embroidery. The paintings exhibited here are Termeh no. 5, Termeh no. 6, and Termeh no. 7.


Termeh is a woven cloth completely handmade that originated in Iran.  The intricate patterns on the cloth are usually the result of pure silk, real gold and silver fibers.


Termeh no. 4 Acrylic, Silk & Cotton Thread 2007, 24x24 inches



The purpose of creating this series is to scrutinize the patterns, colors, coordination, and composition of Iranian textiles such as Termeh and Persian carpet that are examples of Iranian sublime art and that has been basically products made by women for centuries.


Through this experience, I tend to appreciate the excellent works of arts created by unknown women artists, as well as to expose a path in which I can translate the language of traditional textile design into the modern visual  language.


These ten paintings become more complex, as Termeh no. 1 is the  simplest one and Termeh no. 10 will reach the complexity of Persian carpet and Termeh.


Termeh no. 5 Acrylic, Silk & Cotton Thread, 2007 24x24 inches

"The most formative years of my life have been spent giving birth to my artworks. It was through art that I discovered my creativity and my convection to nature all around me. I look at nature to find colors, objects, shapes and forms.

During my journey into the world of art I have been driven to use my imagination more than visible reality. Many of the human figures and still lifes I created in years 1990-1995 were imaginative. I often did not use any model. Later, my forms became more simple and abstract. Then, I realized that my hidden tendency to abstractionism is somehow related to geometric forms and colors of tiles in masque, Klim, carpets and Iranian art in general. The abstract forms and distinctive compositions in Iranian art have guided me to look for harmony, rhythm, and spiritual gradations in my works.

I believe in art as an international visual dialogue that should embrace characteristics of the artist and the culture he or she grew up in; in my works I am looking for my roots as an Iranian artist."


Termeh no.7 Acrylic, Silk & Cotton Thread, 2008 24x36 inches


Mahshid Modares was one of the participants in the Art Exhibition held by The Iranian Women's Studies Foundation (IWSF) in conjunction with the 19th IWSF 2008 International Conference in Berkeley, California (July 4-6, 2008). This exhibition was in recognition and appreciation of Iranian women artists and in celebration of their work. Modares displayed her some of the works from her Termeh series in this exhibition.


See also Mahshid Modares's page on Beyond Persia's web site.

... Payvand News - 08/18/08 ... --

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