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Souren Mousavi - The Air Gallery

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

SOUREN Mousavi’s first major solo exhibition, which explores the mind of this extraordinary woman’s journey from Iran, is on display at The Air Gallery until April 5, 2008.

Born in Persia in 1969 with ancestry linked to the Iranian monarchy, Mousavi graduated with a Fine Art Masters degree from the University of Tehran and, inspired to use her art to convey her thoughts and feelings, became an active campaigner for women’s rights.

Her primary subject of the female form, examples of which are included in the exhibition, were deemed pornographic and offensive by the regime. This contributed to her arrest and eventual imprisonment. There began a painful and traumatic period over several years, ending in safety in the UK.

The exhibition, a collection of paintings, drawings and limited edition prints, is based on two series: The Passion Pain and Women Exposed.

The Passion Pain
Luminous use of colour and natural imagery symbolise the artist’s need for tenderness in a place of brutality and exploitation. Movement and flow express the spirit dissolving through time and space, searching for escape and rejuvenation. Fragmented and disjointed depictions of eyes, nose, hands, feet, mouth imply deprevation, denial and the desecration of humanity. Mousavi incorporates traditional Persian art forms reflecting her sadness at the loss of her heritage. The Passion Pain Series delineates an honest and emotive journey from internment to freedom.

Women Exposed
Oil paintings reveal the plight of a woman in her twenties denied the freedom of love, intimacy and self expression. Self portraits explore the complexities of sexuality, desire, life and death. Mousavi’s figures allude to the features of womankind. She touches on creation and motherhood. Frequent use of the body bound by nature portrays a deep need to return to the base elements of life. Partially covered features contrast beauty and ugliness, raising questions of internal conflict that are deliberately confusing.

Mousavi’s story is heartfelt for any woman living with the fortunate freedom and equality our British society provides. It is impossible to comprehend survival of such harsh and unnecessary treatment. Her strength and courage is remarkable; her life remains for now, a struggle to accept the past.

To view Mousavi’s images, visit her website.

The Air Gallery, 32 Dover Street, Mayfair, London.

Times: Daily from 10am to 6pm.