Shiva Ahmadi

Shiva Ahmadi
Watercolor and ink.
30 1/8 x 22 7/8 inches (76.5 x 58.1 cm)
Purchased with funds provided by Fady Jameel and Gail Monaghan, and on the Manley Family Fund.

An Iranian artist now living in California, Ahmadi fuses traditional Persian art forms with contemporary political commentary. In her lush watercolors, such as this one, monkeys who resemble seventeenth- and eighteenth-century representations of the Hindu deity Hanuman, are avatars of corruption. The bombs they offer refer satirically to Iran's culture of gift-giving. Here, they sit atop minarets, surrounded by calligraphic lines that seem to ensnare them. Ahmadi combines highly controlled paint application, typical of Persian manuscript painting, with a looser handling in which she relies more on chance. For example, she created the patterned background by placing hair, rice, and salt on the sheet to absorb the water in the wash she first applied over the surface.

The artist (Leila Heller Gallery, New York).
Artist page: