Beauty, Strength, Freedom In Sajedi's Women: The Roots Of Self-Affirmation From Marie Antoniette To The Contemporary Revolution
October 17, 2023
An Iranian artist, deeply connected to the Renaissance art through an unbreakable love, a creator of works with a strong and determined character, vivid colors, and enchanting, astonishing representations.
A woman who paved her way in a challenging world and found a means to express herself and give voice to her ideas and ideals through works of unquestionable, albeit unique, beauty: Afarin Sajedi.

Sajedi, the Iranian artist who places women discussing inner strength and suffering at the core of her work, will be the protagonist of the upcoming exhibition at the Dorothy Circus Gallery in Rome. Her solo exhibition will pay tribute not only to the opulence of the Renaissance but also to Rococoart. The artist, who now resides in Paris, has embraced the French atmosphere and reinterpreted the figure of Marie Antoinette in a highly personal and contemporary manner.
Bon Appétite Madame & Bon Appétit Duncan by Afarin Sajedi, 2023
Afarin Sajedi was born in 1979 in Shiraz, Iran and studied at Azad University in Tehran. Through an in-depth study of the Italian Renaissance, Sajedi shapes her taste and elaborates her style, taking inspiration from European art history and the great masters such as the writer Heinrich Boll and the painter Gustav Klimt.
Bon Appétit by Afarin Sajedi, 2023
"I would say that my work represents humanity. Love, suffering, frustration, desire are feelings that unite us and that I try to convey in my paintings. I want to bring to the outside the emotions of the women I portray, to reveal what women do not say or cannot say. They are strong women with chaotic insides, and they speak to everyone, men or women, as feelings characterises us all as human beings. 
Afarin Sajedi
Sajedi's women, painted in realistic technique on huge canvases with homogeneous backgrounds, appear as if immersed in a deep sea of silence. Central to her story is the woman and her courage. Afarin Sajedi's paintings and characters, intense and ironic, evoke at the same time the elaborate nuances of Shakespearean plays, and Lars von Trier, and the surreal adventures of Cervantes and Calvino. Sajedi women show off the most bizarre hairstyles. They have wet eyes, reddened lips and cheeks, revealing the internal conflict that women experience between love and hope, strength and fear in an emotional pattern that mirrors the female experience and explores its psychology and spirituality. 
Princesse by Afarin Sajedi, 2021 & Infanta Margarita Teresa in a Pink Dress by Diego Velázquez, 1660
The eyes of her characters, closed or open, symbolize the desire to look beyond what we see. In Sajedi's art, the force of change prevails, readable in the symbolism of the fish with which the artist alludes to feelings and the unstoppable desire to move freely in one's imagination, without filters or restrictions. Sajedi has participated in numerous international groups and solo exhibitions.
Bon Appétit 2 by Afarin Sajedi, 2023
We have decided to delve deeper into the study of the works and poetics of Afarin Sajedi, who will be showcasing her new series of paintings at the Dorothy Circus Gallery in Rome, which will compose her solo exhibition titled "Bon Appétit", set to open on October 13th 2023.

With this exhibition, through the symbolism of the heart and the ritual act of dining, Sajedi urges us to confront our desires, vulnerabilities, and appetites.

Intriguingly, Sajedi employs a unique language of symbols, where flowers, meat, and blood serve as powerful metaphors for the ephemeral nature of life. Each element acts as a poignant reminder of the fleeting essence of existence and the profound, often controversial, nature of humanity.

A distinctive feature of Sajedi's recent creations is the infusion of a rococo-inspired color palette. This choice amplifies the impact of themes related to femininity, which have always held a special place in the artist's heart. In particular, through her distinctive representation of characters dressed in elaborate and unconventional costumes, Sajedi not only celebrates their strength and resilience but also reflects her passionate temperament and cultural heritage.
Afarin Sajedi is a world-renowned artist who has made a name for herself in the world of contemporary art with her powerful and unique style. Over the years, her work has received numerous awards, including the prestigious "Young Artist of the Year" award in 2015.
Bon Appétit 3 by Afarin Sajedi, 2023
Sajedi's art, which is now widely exhibited in galleries around the world, reflects her Persian heritage and explores themes of identity, culture, and history. The artist began drawing and painting at a very young age. Her family, recognizing her immense talent, introduced her to the Italian Renaissance at a young age, and since then, Sajedi has been expressing her inner self through her art, painting full-time since 2009.
Illusion 1 & Illusion 2 by Afarin Sajedi, 2016


Sajedi received a classical painting education, and her artistic journey intertwines with the magical symbolism and more contemporary influences of American Pop Surrealism and Asian Neo-Pop.

In 2013, invited by the Dorothy Circus Gallery, Sajedi held her first solo exhibition in Europe in Rome, as part of the "Inside Her Eyes" exhibition, showcasing her works at the prestigious Palazzo Valentini.


Chef Offer 2 & Chef Offer by Afarin Sajedi, 2014


Her paintings are characterized by a surreal atmosphere, strong and expressive colors, and brushwork.

Through her works, the artist reflects the complexity of the human experience and the importance of preserving cultural heritage and identity.

The artist primarily depicts women who stand against solid-colored backgrounds, often accompanied by symbolic objects or living elements like fish. These women often appear immersed in a deep sea of tranquility and pleasant silence. Yet, they are women with eloquent gazes that speak to us even with closed lips.


Madonna con Bambino by Lorenzo di Credi c.1485 - 1490

& Ecce Homo by Afarin Sajedi, 2019


Her large acrylic paintings envelop and captivate the viewer in her surreal and powerful reality.
In the face of Sajedi's works, it is impossible to remain indifferent. This is because in each of Sajedi's works, the female figure undergoes a profound examination.


Illusion & Illusion 1 by Afarin Sajedi, 2016

What does your art mean to you?
"Realizing and depicting the universe I’m trusted with creating."

Afarin Sajedi  
(Interview by Anthony Hagan)


Tsunami by Afarin Sajedi, 2020


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Sajedi predominantly represents women, but not exclusively, and as she herself has stated, she does not consider herself a feminist, nor does she conceive her work as a defense of feminist ideas. What attracts her more are human and universal concerns and questions.

Nevertheless, her proximity to the theme of women and freedom is clear, and as she has mentioned, the complexity of the female mind is more in line with her ideas.

Among her most poignant works is "Tsunami" created in 2020, which depicts the bust of a woman wearing Japanese attire and hairstyles, with tears flowing from her eyes that transform into waves, reminiscent of those painted by Katsushika Hokusai. This work was created in memory of Romina Ashrafi, a 13-year-old Iranian girl who was killed by her father due to her love, which was not accepted by the family.

It's a powerful piece that also aims to represent the artist's inner self during the period when she created this painting.


After Waves, 2012 & Chef Offer 3, 2014 by Afarin Sajedi


"Even though I prefer female subjects," she explains, "I also speak to men. I want to represent humanity. Working on the differences between men and women would be inhumane."
Afarin Sajedi


Her works often convey both irony and melancholy simultaneously. We see women with expressive, strong, and courageous faces, yet very human in their approach to life and the various emotions they feel and experience. They are bold women who understand suffering.

Their faces emerge from the canvases to speak directly to each of us, creating a silent but powerful dialogue filled with suggestions and emotions.


Dionysus 2 by Afarin Sajedi, 2018


To better understand her work and her conception of art, we believe that this response from Sajedi during an interview with Anthony Hagan is poignant: "the best compliments are those that are expressed by people who get feelings from my work that they can’t express. That’s when I know I have succeeded in what I want to do."

Because that's what Sajedi's art does: it leaves us speechless, taken aback by unconventional beauty, rich in meaning, and emotions that are difficult to put into words.


The Chinese Year by Afarin Sajedi, 2020


"I draw inspiration from everything, I absorb everything I see, from cinema to music. Anything that comes from art inspires me."
Afarin Sajedi


Fish Bag, & Symphony of Pain by Afarin Sajedi, 2012


Sajedi's large canvases, in a play of light and shadow, explore sequences of dreams and solitudes, narrating battles and achievements of a universal femininity. They unveil a feminine message with alchemical, religious, and literary symbolism capable of transcending all temporal and cultural barriers, offering further illumination and understanding of women today.

There are various subjects that Sajedi loves to depict, almost always female, drawing inspiration from theatrical characters and sometimes from the figure of the clown.


Cold Spring & Deep by Afarin Sajedi, 2012



"Illusion is a constant in our existence because illusion is that opposing part of reality that allows us to perceive our emotions as we observe something, as we think, or even right now as you and I sit on this couch talking. Even in this moment, there is illusion because life is a continuous asking of questions, of reflections."
Afarin Sajedi


Sajedi has been strongly inspired by Heinrich Böll's Clown, as can be seen in the use of makeup on the faces she paints.

In the clown makeup found in her characters, there may be a desire for mimesis, but also to transcend imposed boundaries, to communicate emotions outward to her audience, to represent what women don't say or can't say.

Not only in the figure of the clown, but perhaps also in the silence that permeates Sajedi's works, we can find Heinrich Böll. Böll, in addition to being the author of the famous "The Clown" is also the writer of the novella "Murke's Collected Silences" a work centered around silence. The protagonist, a man who works in a radio company, begins to collect the silences that are cut from radio recordings or records them himself, creating an increasingly longer tape. Through all these seemingly useless silences, he not only finds solace, something that allows him to rest but also, and above all, a way to rediscover himself.



Illusion by Afarin Sajedi, 2016


“Women have often told me how much they enjoy using make up because it allows them to wear another face”
Afarin Sajedi


Sometimes her figures stand out against a black background, while at other times, the colors are cool, in shades of blue.

The black background places the figures in a theater, making these figures actresses on stage with all the attention focused on them. This renders them profoundly human.

On the other hand, the celestial blue is a color that induces a sensation of apparent calm and tranquility, though illusory. This color also allows her to emphasize the faces of the characters.


The girl with pearl earrings by Afarin Sajedi, 2019 &
Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer c.1665


"The subjects of my paintings are proud, despite the problems related to age or living conditions."
Afarin Sajedi


The mystical settings in which her figures emerge are unsettling. Among the objects depicted in her works, you can find unique forks, bubbles, futuristic glasses, paper boats, but above all, central to her works, is the figure of the fish.


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"I find that fish represent emotions," explains the artist, "which are often elusive." Although each painting has its own particular and specific meaning, the fish in her works draws our attention as a symbolic reference alluding to the flow of emotions in the women depicted.

The symbolism of fish alludes precisely to the fluidity of emotions and the artist's desire to swim freely, without filters or censorship, in her own imagination.

Illusion 4 by Afarin Sajedi, 2016
"Regarding the fish, I’ve always said that it is something invisible to others but very much present for the self. Sometimes this presence is felt so strongly that the self becomes the presence completely. "
Afarin Sajedi


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Sajedi's artistic production also includes many beautiful drawings created with a ballpoint pen. In these drawings, the woman emerges as a black figure against a white background, captured while performing various actions, often with her eyes covered, closed, or hidden behind large futuristic glasses.



Cinderella, 2015 & A Flower Pot , 2012 by Afarin Sajedi

"Life is beyond what can be seen with the eyes (naked or not) and our duty is to depict the unseen worlds."
Afarin Sajedi  
(Interview by Anthony Hagan)
In other instances, we find absolutely enchanting works featuring theriomorphic images against a black background, evoking the fantastic wonder of ancient bestiaries in us as viewers.
Stronger & The Day I Grew Horns by Afarin Sajedi, 2016
Her early exposure to Renaissance art and her growing passion for European art significantly influenced her future style.

Quoting Sajedi: "Since I was a child, I was obsessed with Christian art, the one found in churches and then in grand noble palaces, with depictions of God, Christ, and the Saints."
Rest by Afarin Sajedi, 2019 & Afarin Sajedi with one of her paintings
Indeed, the artist paints female figures with translucent skin, much more akin to a Renaissance woman rather than a Persian one. What she paints is her inner woman.

Often, the condition of women is desperate not only due to the societal constraints imposed but also because of the inner conflicts they must face. This emerges in her works and in the gazes of the protagonists of her pieces.

Her women are real, proud, simultaneously silent yet possessing deep gazes.
Weight by Afarin Sajedi, 2016
The artist paints the faces of women who live with conflicting feelings, strong emotions, joys, and sorrows. These feelings and emotions come to life on her canvases through the use of vibrant and sometimes intense colors, with red being particularly prominent: the color of passion, blood, vitality, and warmth. Her women often have red lips and cheeks that stand out against the alabaster of their fair skin.

Their lips are often sealed shut, or sometimes not even painted. This expresses the impossibility of communication, which occurs entirely through their vivid and eloquent eyes, in some cases covered by glasses or headgear, or veiled, but always expressive.
 You Look Ready by Afarin Sajedi, 2019 & Kill Bill Cover
"I really love faces. I adore details and drawing the details of the face. Especially the eyes, I focus a lot on those because I believe they truly represent people's thoughts, without the possibility of lying. The eyes are the mirror of the soul."
Afarin Sajedi
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Eyes are fundamental elements in Sajedi's portraits. For the artist, the world is reflected precisely in the gazes of her characters. Their eyes shout what closed mouths cannot.

In their gazes, we can glimpse an inner conflict made of fear and hope, but above all, great strength. Yet, often, the eyes are closed, emphasizing their ability to observe the world through an "inner sight" for which physical eyes are not needed.
Love by Afarin Sajedi, 2023
The somber beauty of Afarin Sajedi's works transports us into deep and evocative narratives. Her strong yet human women, who suffer but always find the strength to react, who resiliently face life with its beauties and sorrows, allow us not only to delve into the human psyche but also to explore themes such as love, frustration, and desire. They enable us to explore the meaning of humanity in relation to the role of women and their identity within society.

“When I paint portraits and I’m working on the details, I work in a manner very similar to close-ups in the cinema where the audience can learn about inner states and emotions of the character in that specific moment by getting closer to him/her. Generally speaking, I can’t claim to be an illustrator of the “inside”. Sometimes the inside is kept hidden by my subject’s silence, the only way to grasp it is through their gazes and the surrounding symbols; at other times, the inside is so highlighted that it strips them of all attributes of the human figure, transforming them to new creatures.”

Afarin Sajedi  

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