Technical Problem is an exhibition of mixed media drawings by Vancouver-based, Iranian-born artist Aileen Bahmanipour that explores cyclical political power and cultural identity.
Bahmanipour’s work draws from Iran’s mythic history such as the story of King Zahak contained in the national epic poem Shahnameh written by the Persian poet Ferdowsi between c. 977 and 1010 CE. Zahak was cursed by the kiss of the devil with two snakes that grew out of his shoulders. According to the legend, he began beheading the youth of Iran to feed their brains to his snakes. Fearful of being bitten by the snakes, Zahak sacrificed the future intellectual life of an entire nation.
The works in the exhibition reference Persian miniature painting, creating an allegorical language that shifts between the political reality of Bahmanipour’s home country, narrative construction, and personal symbolism. She elicits the contradictions between Iran’s mythic past and relationship to modernity as a utopic ideal in contrast with the state’s ongoing repressive control of its people. Medical illustrations and cross sections of limbs combined with animal and abstract forms mimic the border between the interior and exterior, and dissect the past as a reflection of the present. Bahmanipour’s work is both fantastical and meticulous, expressing a process of transformation unfolding and in tension.
Aileen Bahmanipour received her BFA in Painting at the Tehran University of Art and is currently completing an MFA at the University of British Columbia. Bahmanipour’s interdisciplinary practice spans from installation to painting and video based works, examining hybrid dialogues between Western and Eastern perspectives in search of deconstructing cultural truisms. Bahmanipour has exhibited her work in Canada with the Banff Centre for the Arts, Gallery 1515, Hatch Art Gallery, and Two Rivers Gallery. Her work was included in the 12th Belgrade International Biennial of Illustration in Serbia (2013), and the 4th Painting Biennial of Damonfar, Iran (2012). She is a recipient of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Scholarship, 2017.
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Image: Aileen Bahmanipour, Sucking My Tears (detail), 2014. Courtesy of the artist.