Zahra Nazari's large-scale abstracted and architectonic paintings and installations are formed by ideas about identity, immigration issues, and how globalization is changing our perceptions.
Nazari's paintings are like storyboards that reflect the changes in her life by her immigration. They depict flux, instability, and challenge her own ideas of home and identity. She abstracts images of ancient Eastern architecture and postmodernist western architecture as metaphors for transformations and transitions in her life. The imaginary worlds she creates are where both old and new coexist and relate without rejecting or overwhelming one another.
"The immigrant identity is often fearful yet hopeful: having left a life they built, including often friends and family, now living and working as hard as possible on a glass surface that could break at any moment. In my paintings, I create scenes that represent that nervous excitement of uncertainty and hopefulness."
Nazari's work is visually inspired by architecture, with the sources representing her own ideas about the locations and purposes of that architecture. "In my sculptural pieces, I have transformed the space by defining passageway into the piece(s) as well as positioning of the work to additionally represent the source architecture. For example, in my series Points of Departure, images of the domes of the Music Room of Ali Qapu (a 17-century palace) are suspended pieces in the air, abstractly representing the architecture that delivers such unique acoustics from above."
While her artwork is not political in nature, it is very relevant to the current political climate.
"I believe that anti-immigrant sentiment is largely due to lack of empathy for the immigrant experience. Since my work is so closely tied to my own feelings over the course of my immigration, viewing my artwork is an opportunity for the audience to share in this state and hopefully walk away with a sense of emotional growth."
"Ultimately, I feel that people’s perspectives are inevitably moving towards a global view"
Nazari also addresses the cultural of globalization in her work, and often represents East meets West visually and emotionally. "Personally, I feel I am a product of that same cultural globalization, as I tend to be a bit far from what audiences commonly think of as “Middle Eastern art”. I aim to broaden the audience’s perspective on what an artist’s goals can be, regardless of their origin.
Ultimately, I feel that people’s perspectives are inevitably moving towards a global view of artwork as in all things: that an Iranian Architectural Abstract Painter will be viewed on the same level playing field across the globe without the country of origin being a necessary modifier. Just as movies, video games, music, and literature are more widely accessible than ever before, so too will contemporary artwork."
Nazari's sculptural paintings were recently part of a group exhibition at Denise Bibro Fine Art in Chelsea, New York City, showing her earlier direct influences of the ancient architecture from Iranian archaeological dig sites combined with urban landscapes.
"Currently, I am in the process of creating an installation piece based on the neighborhoods where most immigrants live. I'm conducting interviews with them in regards to their life experiences."