Shirana Shahbazi

Shirana Shahbazi

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Born in Tehran in 1974, Shirana Shahbazi immigrated to Germany with her family the year she turned eleven. She studied photography in Dortmund initially, before entering the Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst in Zurich. She has lived and worked in the Swiss city ever since.

Her art quickly came to the fore and began to draw considerable interest on the international scene starting in 2002, with Shahbazi winning several important awards and taking part in a number of shows, notably at the Barbican Centre in London, the Centre d’art contemporain in Geneva and MoMA in New York.

In the course of her travels, in particular during stays in Berlin, Iran, Moscow and the United States, Shahbazi has done portraits, landscapes and still-lifes, which she works out in highly studied compositions. Sometimes she reuses her images as “matrices” in the design of paintings, posters and rugs, which she has Iranian craftsmen produce.

Her work often takes the form of installations in which she mixes large-scale photographic prints with small-format pieces from various series, in both colour and black and white. Like a visual collage, formal and symbolic associations spring from this contrasting juxtaposition. Her photos demand a certain neutrality, that is, although they clearly refer to a certain history of art and forms, it is impossible to associate them with any particular place or period.

Indeed the artist draws on her native country for the framework or support of her subjects, although this cultural element never predominates. And whilst 17th century Dutch and Flemish painting serves as the model for her still-lifes and certain portraits, her updating of the genre in photography blurs and confuses references to any specific time.

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