Gallery Conversation » The Beyond Artist Negar Ahkami
Join artist Negar Ahkami for a conversation on her artwork in the temporary exhibition The Beyond: Georgia O’Keeffe & Contemporary Art.
Space is limited; please arrive 5 to 10 minutes early.
The Gallery Conversation is free, but a ticket to the exhibition is required: $10 (Free for members and youth ages 18 and under), available at Guest Services or https://crystalbridges.org/okeeffe
Negar Ahkami’s paintings are colorful collisions of influence and critique that she refers to as “an aesthetic of contradiction.”[i] She incorporates Persian architecture and design into her paintings as a proxy for Iranian culture alongside a stylized cartoon aesthetic. Growing up in the U.S., she was acutely aware of her identity as an American, but one who was constantly defending her Iranian heritage.[ii] While her fusion of styles underscores her own sense of cultural hybridity, the work reflects Ahkami’s idea that Iran is presented in American media as a “cartoon” of its real self.
In The Source, a Persian mosaic pattern occupies the background of the composition. Overlaid on this design, a building emerges from a sweep of rushing water. The once-stately Persian structure appears to collapse into a heap of vaguely recognizable architectural detail, signaling the steady meltdown of Western perceptions of Iran, but also functioning as a dual criticism of the brutal rule of the theocratic Iranian government led by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and its effects on its people and culture.