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b. 1972, Iran

Golnaz Fathi Biography

Golnaz Fathi is a contemporary Iranian artist recognised for her reinterpretations of traditional Persian calligraphy. While most known for her pen- or acrylic-on-canvas works characterised by intricate lines and gestural brush strokes, she also engages with other media, including LED light and video installations.

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Born in 1972 in Tehran, Fathi came of age in the aftermath of the Islamic Revolution (1978–1979) and Iran-Iraq War (1980–1988). From such tumult she has developed a practice consisting of contemplative work that often offers a sense of stillness and harmony. In the 1990s, while studying graphic design at Tehran's Azad University, she developed a fascination with traditional Persian calligraphy, and went on to receive a diploma from the Iranian Society of Calligraphy. She is one of the few female Iranian artists to have been formally trained in calligraphy—the field remains heavily dominated by men.

Seeking to expand the discipline's traditional boundaries, Fathi utilises a technique based on siah-mashq—an exercise where a calligrapher writes repeatedly until the paper is covered with black ink. The artist similarly envelops her canvases in black pools that, upon closer inspection, are revealed to be thin, interwoven lines. When she paints, her brush strokes evoke the gestural marks found in American Abstract Expressionism or Persian script. They are, in fact, illegible. This allows the audience to devise their own meanings and she seldom titles her work in order to maintain this openness.

While her paintings are open to interpretation, Fathi also responds to contemporary concerns. The works included in her solo exhibition Falling Leaves at The Third Line, Dubai, in 2013, for example, are based on Shahnameh, an epic Persian poem written by Ferdowsi between circa 977 and 1010. By combining figurative lithographic illustrations with calligraphic strokes, she draws parallels between the futility of wars in Shahnameh and present-day conflicts in Iran and the Middle East at large.

Fathi also experiments with three-dimensional and digital media. An untitled Plexiglas box from 2013 is lit by LED lights, revealing grids of soft undulating blue lines against a black background. In 2014, the artist exhibited her videos, Let's Blow Them Away and Dance Me to the End of Night, in which her trademark gestural lines come to life. She explored unconventional supports in 2018, painting on aluminium composite panels with their corners and other sections laser-cut away. Such untitled works were included in her solo presentation Let's Pretend Everything is Alright at Sundaram Tagore New York, in 2019.

Selected solo exhibitions include A Long Line Without a Word, Pearl Lam Galleries, Shanghai (2018); Contemplations, Sundaram Tagore Singapore (2016); and Dance Me to the End of Night, October Gallery, London (2014). Group shows include Frontiers Reimagined, a collateral event of the 56th Venice Biennale (2015); and The Decorated Word: Writing and Picturing in Islamic Calligraphy, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2019). Her works are in the collections of the Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore; the British Museum, London; Brighton & Hove Museum; Carnegie Mellon University, Doha; The Farjam Foundation, Dubai; the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur; and The Metropolitan Museum of Art; among others.

Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2019

Golnaz Fathi Featured Artworks

View All (33)
Untitled by Golnaz Fathi contemporary artwork
Golnaz FathiUntitled, 2018Mixed media on composite
150 x 110 cm
Sundaram Tagore Gallery Contact Gallery
Untitled by Golnaz Fathi contemporary artwork
Golnaz FathiUntitled, 2018Mixed media on composite
150 x 110 cm
Sundaram Tagore Gallery Contact Gallery
Untitled by Golnaz Fathi contemporary artwork
Golnaz FathiUntitled, 2017Acrylic on canvas
140 x 170 cm
Pearl Lam Galleries Contact Gallery
Out of My Hands by Golnaz Fathi contemporary artwork
Golnaz FathiOut of My Hands, 2017Pen on canvas
100 x 242 cm
Pearl Lam Galleries Contact Gallery
Untitled by Golnaz Fathi contemporary artwork
Golnaz FathiUntitled, 2017Pen and acrylic on canvas
120 x 120 cm
Pearl Lam Galleries Contact Gallery
Untitled by Golnaz Fathi contemporary artwork
Golnaz FathiUntitled, 2015Ballpoint pen and varnish on canvas
170 x 118 cm
Sundaram Tagore Gallery Contact Gallery
Untitled by Golnaz Fathi contemporary artwork
Golnaz FathiUntitled, 2016Pen on canvas
90 x 180 cm
Pearl Lam Galleries Contact Gallery
Untitled (triptych) by Golnaz Fathi contemporary artwork
Golnaz FathiUntitled (triptych), 2015Acrylic, pen and varnish on canvas
180 x 135 cm
Sundaram Tagore Gallery Contact Gallery

Golnaz Fathi Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Winter Group Show at Sundaram Tagore Gallery, New York
Closed
9 January–8 February 2020 Group Exhibition Winter Group Show Sundaram Tagore GalleryChelsea, New York
Contemporary art exhibition, Golnaz Fathi, Let’s Pretend Everything is All Right at Sundaram Tagore Gallery, New York
Closed
14 November–14 December 2019 Golnaz Fathi Let’s Pretend Everything is All Right Sundaram Tagore GalleryChelsea, New York
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Singapore Summer Show at Sundaram Tagore Gallery, Singapore
Closed
13 June–10 August 2019 Group Exhibition Singapore Summer Show Sundaram Tagore GallerySingapore

Golnaz Fathi Represented By

Pearl Lam Galleries contemporary art gallery in Pedder Street, Hong Kong Pearl Lam Galleries Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai
Sundaram Tagore Gallery contemporary art gallery in Hong Kong Sundaram Tagore Gallery New York, Hong Kong, Singapore

Golnaz Fathi In Related Press

Highlights from the seventh edition of Art Stage Singapore Related Press Highlights from the seventh edition of Art Stage Singapore 18 January 2017, The National

‘Contemporary art is not a decoration, it is a statement. It is a wonderful ­seismograph of our societies and realities.' These words were part of the opening speech given last week by founder Lorenzo Rudolf at the seventh edition of Art Stage Singapore in the South-east Asian island city. Rudolf, from Switzerland, has made it his mission to...

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Observing 'In Silence' Related Press Observing 'In Silence' 30 August 2016, RanDian

Every year, for a single day, the island of Bali grinds to a halt. No planes thunder overhead, and its bustling beaches lie empty. The streets are deserted, and Bali’s residents are all indoors, meditating or even fasting. The following day, the new year is celebrated and Bali thrums with energy once more. This single, silent day, Nyepi, has...

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