The Journey of a Girl to Womanhood

Maryam Hashemi’s paintings


The Journey of a Girl to Womanhood
by Roya Jahanbin

I spent hours looking at her works following her tireless strive to spit back the entrapped feelings of those years living under the iron law of veil and its harsh repressive influence on a growing up girl with flying imagination.

Maryam’s painting between 2001 & 2006 shows how she throws back on the canvas that was forced down her throat while dipping her brushes in other styles. She is not a depressive painter, she does not simply stomach what is forced on her. The “Family Day Out” is a universal teenage agony with or without veil. Meanwhile, she comes up with beautiful paintings of women from different minorities in Iran especially the “Tehrani”.  The “Skateboarder” is an innocent portrait of injustice in a male dominated culture. And her Empress or Mary is sad and perhaps the Parrot knows it all!

During the above period, the works of 2002 are very different. This is the time just before her exodus to London. Her gold fish are losing colour and in one occasion they are pale and hanging upside down. When the world is ugly she makes her characters wear goggles. It is not enough and something has to change. The paintings are the story of the trapped angel and you could feel the frustration of the young soul wishing for a breathe of fresh air that could be hard to come by in the contemporary Iran especially if you are young, female and an artist!

Then there is a lull in her creative activities or they are not yet available for public viewing! We do not see much of her work from 2006 to 2009 while perhaps she is reorienting herself in her new home and going through a period of just absorbing. And suddenly she bursts with a new sexuality in her paintings in 2009. Her gold fish are back in full colour. Her goggled creatures are beautiful mermaids happily swimming about. This is the first time we see women with full breasts and curves in her works.
She looks back at what made her furious with a conquering grin and leaves the ghosts behind the window.  They cannot hurt her anymore. She mocks the politics of the day in her “Circus” and she is on the road home.

She arrives at the sweet home in peace maybe younger than many of her generation in 2010. She is now a woman and you could witness that in her self portrait in “Sweet Surrender”. The interesting thing for me is the fact that her “Arrival” is painted recently. Maryam has a great capacity to hold her feelings long enough inside that when she talks about it she could be as calm as her smile in the painting. She is definitely home now!

Her very recent work “Motherships” is my favourite with her refreshing style and sense of freedom it conveys. This is Maryam to come. Hold on to your seats as she is going to blow you up soon!!

The Exhibition of her works at the Broadway gallery in Barking is open till until November 19th (2010).

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Dirty Angel


by Dirty Angel on

A review without a mention of  the artist's main movement, ie Stuckism?


" Thank god for botox; my facial expressions are wearing rather thin...."