Arghavan Khosravi On Tension, Circumventing Censorship, and the Protest of Iranian Women — Colossal


#Arghavan Khosravi

November 27, 2023

Grace Ebert

“The White Feather” (2023), acrylic on canvas over shaped wood panels, wood cutouts, plexiglass, metal nails, chainmail, feather, 82 x 50 x 16 inches. All images © Arghavan Khosravi, shared with permission

For Arghavan Khosravi, obscurity is the point. In a new conversation with Colossal, the Iranian artist recounts how she translates the experience of living a dual life—that of immigrating, of presenting differently when at school and at home, and of wanting to deny clear interpretations—into disjointed works that are equally alluring and destabilizing. She says:

I’m interested in this idea of contradiction in general, not just in how the paintings look. When I have imagery coming from different contexts—like historic, contemporary, Western, Eastern—this creates tension, which is like a visual translation of the tension Iranian people feel living in Iran. Most Iranians don’t believe how the governing system is thinking and believing, so there is always this clash between tradition, religion, and then modernity and secular ideas.

Khosravi discusses using a simple visual alphabet to convey complex narratives, feeling inextricably tethered to her home in Iran, and why she needs to paint every day to cope with injustice and heal from trauma.

Read the conversation.


a fragmented work with a crying greek statue, two women shown through an open window, another woman obscured by a flowing orange curtain, and Persian imagery in back

“The Orange Curtain” (2022), acrylic on canvas over shaped wood panel on wood panel, 64 1/2 x 49 inches

#Arghavan Khosravi


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