Faceless forms

Faceless forms

Iranian artist aims to capture hidden identities on canvas



What happens to images of criminals when they’re reproduced as art? Why document a faceless face?

Shohreh Mehran’s paintings - portraits of anonymous people which the artist has produced over the last three years – are on view at Etemad Gallery Dubai until April 27 as she tries to shed light on a fascinating art form.

Her paintings are based on studies of the gestures of resistance and defiance. They are permanent records of the ‘faceless’ individuals who find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

Images of criminals, routinely published in daily newspapers, websites and other media outlets are locally specific but globally universal; the faces of the people featured are usually hidden with ‘raised hand’ gestures and visible handcuffs.

Mehran is capturing a collective notion of shame through her detailed oil paintings. She poetically depicts a simple gesture as one that signals defiance and resistance, as if it were the last resort. The paintings show men and women of various ages in this manner, their identities forever haunting and mysterious.

Born in Iran in 1958, Mehran is a painter and a graphic designer who graduated with a degree in Graphic Arts from the Tehran College of Arts. Mehran’s images capture contemporary Iranian scenes and often feature people, particularly in the urban context of Tehran.

She has exhibited widely in Iran and her works have also been shown in the Middle East and internationally.


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