Artist: Safarani Sisters

NEW YORK, NY | Roya Khadjavi Projects is delighted to present the first New York solo exhibition of works by Iranian-born twin sisters Bahareh and Farzandeh Safarani, opening on October 18 and on view through October 31 at Elga Wimmer Gallery, Chelsea, New York. The identical twins and artists have long collaborated in their multi-media practice and continue to work inseparably. Titled Reincarnation, this exhibition presents the sisters’ latest body of representational figurative painting—the innovative ‘video-painting’ for which they are most recognized.The exhibition brings together 14 ‘video-paintings’, paintings overlaid with video projections, that each integrate realistic figurative painting, performance and a remarkable use of delicate video to dramatic self-portrait effect. The works consider classical aesthetics—reminiscent of Renaissance painting and Dutch Old Masters—through a contemporary lens; the Safaranis skillfully bring together these three artistic practices into a single captivating, distinctly contemporary work. In each piece, the sisters are subjects themselves, exploring the sense of self and personal identity in relation to the other, as twins, individuals and also as Iranian women. As Trevor Smith, Curator of the Present Tense at the Peabody Essex Museum explains, “the Safaranis are producing landmark work in its melding of meticulous realistic painting, extraordinary performative discipline and the most exquisitely subtle use of video. The combination of the practices together in a single work produces in their hands, the most breathtaking and astonishing results.”

Reincarnation reveals the progression of the Safaranis’ artistic practice. Their earliest collaborative work focused on a female figure exploring her interior world. This latest body of work marks a departure from earlier narratives and the evolution of the sisters’ artistic practice. In this collection of works, the female figure has now experienced a ‘rebirth’ and an assured sense of self and of place. Now, she confronts the viewer, rather than hiding, she moves towards the window, she opens the door, she slowly invites the outside world in. She is finally coming into her own. No longer a passive subject caught on a canvas as before, she is an active participant in the composition itself. The video projection onto the painted canvas work not only heightens the ethereal movement in the work but further explores the duality of the female subject herself. As the projected figures appear and disappear, the paintings also acquire an illusory quality, encouraging viewers to contemplate the transformed subject and her current narrative in further depth. The exhibition is accompanied by a 20-page catalogue, with an introductory essay by Abby Margulies.

About the artists Collaborative twin artists Farzaneh and Bahareh Safarani were born 1990 in Tehran, Iran, and after being raised there, now live and work in Boston, MA. The sisters have been painting together since the age of thirteen and continue to work and exhibit as one. They trained under Tehran-based artists Farimah Farhatnia and hold both a BFA Degree in Painting from the University of Tehran, College of Fine Arts and an MFA in Studio Art from Northeastern University, College of Art-Media and Design in collaboration with School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA in 2016. Throughout their education they have studied painting, performance, video, installation, conceptual art, and poetry. They have shown their work extensively in the United States, Iran and internationally. Recent solo exhibitions of their work include Sanctuary, Amalgam, Boston (2017-18); Safarani Sisters, Projecting Her, Adelson Gallery, Boston (2016) and at Gallery 360, Northeastern University, Boston. Recent group exhibitions include “If So What?”, Roya Khadjavi Projects, Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco (2018); The Salon in collaboration with the Peabody Essex Museum, Boston, MA (2017); Work by Pairs, Distillery Gallery, Boston (2017); Dualism, Abigail Ogilvy Gallery, Boston (2016); and Neither Here Nor There, Yuan Art Museum, Beijing, China (2016). They have performed at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston most recently (2018) and at the Boston Calling Music Festival (2017). Their work has recently been acquired by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and by private collectors worldwide.

Abby Margulies is an independent arts writer and formerly the arts editor at Guernica Magazine. She is a contributor to several arts publications including Hyperallergic, The Art Newspaper, and Tablet. She has also worked for Art Space, the American Alliance of Museums, and the American Academy in Rome, among others.

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