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The Sweet Blasphemy of Alireza Shojaian
As an artist, he is trying to challenge societies and make space for non-heteronormative masculine identities. Reflecting on the queer history of the Middle East, the present context, and his own experiences.
Shojain finished his bachelor studies in fine arts, painting at Islamic Azad University, Tehran central branch in 2014 and he persued a master's degree in the same university between 2014-2016 but he couldn't obtain his master degree because of the subject of his thesis and final project which was Queer art.
Throughout his fine art studies encouraged by his university professor, Shojaian began to explore his queer art practice, pursue queer themes and narratives, and confront something which he had intentionally avoided but now found comfort in. Shojaian's work was hidden away for the entirety of his studies while the work of his peers hung unashamed in the corridors and galleries of the Iranian capital.
Shojaian knew he could not continue his work in Iran, where his first series on queer art remained un-exhibited. With the movement to the US or Europe limited by sanctions, Shojaian looked closer to home for freedom and saw Lebanon as the most enabling opportunity in the region for him to continue developing his work and identity.
In 2016 Shojaian moved to Beirut and he built his career with holding two solo exhibitions in 2017 and 2018.
In 2019 French embassy in Lebanon, gave Shojaian the opportunity to join an art project in one of the foundations of Academie des beaux-arts and he moved to Paris.
Detail: Hamed Sinno et un de ses Freres
Acrylic and Color pencil on Wood Board, 150 x 220 cm
"As a witness to the pregnancy of Gabrielle d'Estrees, a painting was commissioned and completed in the year of 1594. From an unknown artist, this painting shows Gabrielle d'Estrees in a bathtub with her sister pinching her nipple, in a sign of the upcoming motherhood while Gabrielle holds the ring of Henry of France, father of her soon to be child. This painting bears the same composition of a painting from 1571, "Diane de Poitiers" by Francois Clouet.
"Therefore, I decided to use the same composition as "Gabrielle d'Estrees et une des ses soeurs" to portray, in my very own way, a particular moment in our recent history when, during a concert by Mashrou' Leila, in Cairo on 22 September 2017, many concert goers were arrested by the police for waving the rainbow flag in support for the LGBTQ community during the performance. This governmental intolerance to this particular community is recursive in most Middle Eastern countries.
"I captured this not-to-be documented event by dedicating this collaborative artwork to Hamed Sinno, the lead singer of Mashrou' Leila and portraying him pinching the nipple of Anubis, the ancient Egyptian god, who holds Ankh, the symbol of immortality. The tree symbolizes the growth of this tolerance movement. In the background, the water fountain symbolizes water; the element that can take any form or shape yet can penetrate rock."
The things that damage, devastate, and destroy"
Acrylic & Color Pencil on Wood Panel, 60 x 60 cm
"I have seen the king with a face of glory
He who is the eye and the sun of heaven"
Acrylic & Color Pencil on Wood Panel, 150 x 70 cm
Acrylic and Color Pencil on Wood Board, 95 x 65 cm
Acrylic and Color Pencil on Wood board - 40 x 60 cm - 2019
Graphite on Paper - 45 x 45 cm - 2020
Acrylic and Color Pencil on Wood board - 60 x 45 cm - 2019
Acrylic & Color Pencil on Wood Board, 80 x 60 cm
Acrylic & Color Pencil on Wood Board, 26 x 26 cm, 2019
Pierre II, Acrylic and Color Pencil on Wood board - 45 x 45 cm - 2020
Pierre, Acrylic and Color Pencil on Wood board - 60 x 40 cm - 2019
"There is only one way to be born in a new life: to die before death"
Acrylic & Color Pencil on Wood Panel, 70 x 210 cm
Photo Credit: Tarek Raffoul