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Maliheh Afnan’s work appears ‘as a relic of an older civilization or an archaeological excavation into the collective psyche. The delicacy of Persian miniatures and manuscripts, which she remembers from childhood, is mirrored in her love for intimate scale and the refined beauty of muted colour.’
Calligraphy plays an important role: images appear that suggest the written word. Works on paper and tablets of painted plaster are reminiscent of ancient, almost obliterated texts, and like palimpsests, retain only some vestige of literal meaning and an impression of human contact.
Afnan has absorbed both Middle Eastern and Western influences. She has looked towards such artists as Pollock, Rothko, Dubuffet and Klee, and shares an affinity with the American artist Mark Tobey, who helped arrange the first European exhibition of her work in 1971.
About the Contributors
Rose Issa is a curator and writer who has championed visual art and film from the Arab world and Iran for nearly 30 years. Her gallery, Rose Issa Projects, showcases the best in upcoming and established artists from the Arab world and Iran.
About the Artist
Maliheh Afnan obtained an MA in Fine Arts from the Corcoran School of Art, Washington, DC, in 1962. She has had twelve solo exhibitions and twenty-five group exhibitions around the world, and two retrospectives at England & Co., London, 2000 and 2006. Her work is represented in the Institute du Monde Arabe in Paris and in the British Museum in London, where in 2006 she was included in the exhibition Word into Art: Artists of the Modern Middle East. Afnan most recently exhibited at the Martin Gropius Bau Museum in Berlin.
‘These images, made by hand, whisper. Whisper intimately.’
‘Afnan's work induces an almost trance-like state in the viewer. We are left with a sense of what it means to live in other times, in different places. In essence, Afnan's work is about memory, and her images of eroding traces, faces and places linger long in the memory.’
'Maliheh Afnan has faith in time – her time. She is one of those contemplative artists who are totally aware of that 'right moment', which she calls the moment of grace.'