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Poetry in Representation of Nature: Iranian Artist Farideh Lashai

04/28/11 Translation By Roya Monajem, Tehran (source: Tavoos Art Magazine)

Farideh Lashai
photo by Maryam Zandi

Fadrideh Lashai is a multimedia artist, a perfect artist. It is forty years now that she paints and having held 25 solo exhibitions and participating in more than 80 group exhibition she is one of the most active Iranian female visual artists known. Even before exhibiting her paintings she worked in crystal manufacturing workshops in Germany and Austria as designer for years, having an experience of nearly half century in this field. A lover of literature in general and having studied German literature, she has translated several plays by the famous German playwright Berthold Brecht (1968-2008); an activity she had to abandon after choosing painting as her career. She is a writer too and her last novel Shal Bamu, published a few years ago became a best-seller and attracted the attention of Iranian literary circles. She is one of the founders and an active member of Neda group consisting of 12 Iranian female painters. It is a few years now that she has appealed to video art and multimedia installations. Her presence in international art auctions together with her brilliant valuable works and her successes on a global scale has turned her into one of the most well-known pioneers of visual arts not only in the Persian Gulf region and the Middle East, but also in Europe and America.


Although she began to exhibit her works in Iran late, yet according to an interview she held in Warsaw, Poland, she began painting when six years old, that is before actually starting the primary school. She was born in Rasht in 1944 and may be it is her life next to forests of Gilan, which made nature her primary source of inspiration. After graduation from high school, she went to Germany to study at Munich Fine Art Academy. It was then that the manager of one of the large crystal manufacturing factories in one of the cities in the south of Austria invited her to work as designer there. She received her bachelor degree in German literature from Frankfort University and another bachelor degree from Academy of decorative fine arts of Vienna. Ever since then, glass work and design has remained with Farideh Lashai; a love she pursued after her return to Tehran too.


Her translations of Brecht's have been published since 1968 in Tehran. Her first painting exhibition included her works from the period while she was still studying decorative arts in Vienna and working as glass designer. Her designs are still found in the catalogue of famous Rosenthal crystals under the name of Farideh Lashai's glass-wares.

Upon returning to Iran, she picked up painting as her career during the last years of 1960s and devoted her life to it. In this relation she says: I paint everyday, as though it is my main duty and commitment. Since the very beginning, she pursued her own individual style, a combination of her oriental subjectivity, her love for nature expressed in the framework of abstract art. The fruit of her forty years of relentless efforts include participation in more than 80 group events and 25 solo exhibitions of her paintings, sculpture and recently new art and installations of video and painting. All these years, she has followed her own style and has achieved her own solid visual language. Her works are so illustrious and her style is so unique and characteristic that her works can be easily distinguished by this very personal stamp, elements and motives.


Lashai founded Neda group together with a few other female painters during the closing years of 1990 with the aim to bestow a collective form to their individual activities. Their common concern was to reach a kind of painting style combining native peculiarities and oriental language with the rules and artistic framework established in the world. Their main preoccupation was and the question of identity, the same concern in Farideh Lashai's works.

Traces of various artistic traditions from the past and present are found in Lashai's works. She can be regarded a naturalist painter, even though in her works nature does not have an objective realistic aspect, but possesses a complicated personal subjective quality. In the framework and abstract composition of her works, the presence of nature is clearly discernable, but in an intangible way. It appears sometimes as an interwoven mass, a network of colors, and sometimes as in a shapeless or geometrical form of color. Her works are abstract figures of trees, flowers, bushes and vegetations, from the green bed of earth to trees with their branches crosshatching the sky and the horizon.


She chooses the same old tradition of painting nature as the basis, but grants it a modern contemporary coloring and spirit. She stylizes the richness of natural colors and designs to a few lines and colorful touches. Her nature is devoid of time-space dimension. Although inspired by the nature of her birthplace without any doubt, but it is now a subjective imaginary nature. Her nature turns into such a complicated subjective relation of lines and colors that conveys only a general space of an ideal nature. She catches and depicts freshness, succulence, revelry and beauty of nature on her canvases without an objective presence of real natural elements and involves us in a natural space. Her abstract landscapes, despite bringing nature to mind, are a complex of all elements and motives from colorful compositions to occasional introduction of calligraphy on transparent planes and geometry and graphic.

Persian Gardens

In the past few years Lashai's main preoccupation has been video art making her presence on the international scale more pronounced. This collection includes:

Keep your Interior Empty of Food/That you May Behold Therein the Light of Knowledge
Dear, Dear! How Queer Everything is Today

Gone Down the Rabbit Hole
I Come from the Land of Ideology
Prelude to Rabbit in Wonderland
Rabbit in wonderland
Leyli and Majnun Le Temp Perdu (the time lost)

In Lashai's work, what attracts the attention most of all is a lyrical air. Her works are odes filled with sensation and poetry in praise of nature, but in the language of painting, a kind of lyricism originating from the oriental spirit and geographical history of her birth place; a kind of lyricism covering the whole of her canvases, oozing from the association of her colors and impressionability of her designs, bringing Chinese and Japanese paintings to mind. Her paintings are like haikos about nature, as poetical and as minimal.


Lives and works in Tehran, Iran Born in 1944, Rasht, Iran

B.A. in German Literature, University of Frankfurt, Germany B.A. in Glass Design, Academy of Decorative Arts, Vienna, Austria

2010 Rabbit in Wonderland, Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde , Dubai, UAE
2009 Rafia Galery, Damascus, Syria
Albareh Gallery, Manama, Bahrain
200 7 X VA Gallery, Dubai, UAE
2001 Cultural Center, Barcelona, Spain
1998 Espace Galant, Avignon, France
Chapelle de l'Hotel de Ville, Vesoul, France
Hunar Gallery, Dubai, UAE Goletsan Gallery, Tehran, Iran

Triptych - 185x100cm

2010 Hope ! curated by Ashok Adiceam, Palais des Arts, Dinard, France
2009 Facts and Illusions, Henry Moore Gallery, Royal College of Art, London, UK
Iran Inside Out, Chelsea Art Museum, cura ted by Sam Bardaouil, NYC, USA
Across the Persian Gulf, Hong Kong International Art Fair, curated by Dr. Charles Merewhether, Hong Kong
Movers and Shakers in Iranian Contemporary Art, LTMH, curated by Dr.
Laila Diba, NYC, USA
Conference of the Birds Exhibition, Berardi & Sagharchi Projects, London, UK
2007 Dar Al Fonoun, Kuwait City, Kuwait
Warsaw Museum, Warsaw, Poland
2005 Ludwig Museum, Koblenz, Germany
2004 Persian Gardens,Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, Tehran, Iran
2003 Liu-Haisu Art Museum, Shanghai
Yan-Huang Art Museum, Beijing, China
Kokkola Museum, Kokkola, Finland
Femmes en Iran, Evry City Hall, France and European parliament, Brussels, Belgium
2007 Dar Al Fonoun, Kuwait City, Kuwait
Warsaw Museum, Warsaw, Poland
2005 Ludwig Museum, Koblenz, Germany
2004 Persian Gardens,Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, Tehran, Iran
2003 Liu-Haisu Art Museum, Shanghai
Yan-Huang Art Museum, Beijing, China
Kokkola Museum, Kokkola, Finland
Femmes en Iran, Evry City Hall, France and European parliament, Brussels, Belgium
Caisa Cultural Center, Helsinki, Finland
2002 Iranian Contemporary, Christie’s King Street, London, UK
Villa del Cardinale, Naples, Italy
Fabien Fryns Fine Arts, Marbella, Spain
Palazzo Reale di Napoli, Naples, Italy
Cultural Center, Berlin, Germany
2001-2003 Traveling exhibition “A Breeze from the Gardens of Persia, New Art from Iran”, Meridian International Center, Washington DC, New York, Belleville, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Texas Florida, USA
2001 Amber Gallery, East-West Foundation, Leiden, the Netherlands
2000 Museum of Fine Arts, Caracas, Venezuela
Rome Expo, Rome, Italy International Drawing, Biennial, Tehran, Iran


National Museum of Fine Arts, Valetta, Malta
Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, Tehran, Iran
Deutsche Bank, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Germany
Credit Suisse, Dubai, UAE
Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture & Heritage, Abu Dhabi, UAE The Farjam Collection, Dubai, UAE

Leyli va Majnun 2008-Video projection on painted triptych-Each canvas 94 x 35.5 in

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