Maryam Gohar: Dead Fish
Maryam Gohar: Dead Fish
Artist: Maryam Gohar
Title: Dead Fish
Medium: acrylic on paper
Size: 15x17 inches
My new body of works, though equivocally figurative and of sensual nature, are split into two different groups: the first group consists of those paintings with Shunga backdrops and the second group the ones with Shahnameh backgrounds. To explain my intentions behind each set:
For the first series of works, the reason why I used Shunga to act as their backbone is the raw, uncensored and provocative depiction of pure erotica. I found their bold nature extremely refreshing in oppose to the life I am living as a female artist in my country. I still am working in small sizes though no longer restrained to the confines of my sketchbooks. By letting the Shunga lines peeking through the frontal figure, I deliberately am trying to smear in some of that “fleshy” erotism and at the same time muffling down its male-dominated narrative by doubling, or in cases tripling, the sensual presence of my female figures in their most vulnerable state. The lines can also be seen as tattoo designs since I have always appreciated the art, the peaceful coexistence of destruction and resurrection on a living canvas.
Finishing each figure atop is like letting out a lungful exhalation emotionally encouraging me further to break those unseen walls built by the surrounding world. This led to the second half of my works which are more “ethical” to a degree.
Growing up in a Persian household, there are a handful of books that can be found in every bookcase; Divan Hafez, Sa’adi’s Golestan and Boostan, Masnavi Mowlavi and last but not least, Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh. We had one of the latter that once belonged to my grandfather and was actually a housewarming gift to my parents. It was a beautiful thing with its magnificent illustrations. Since the illustrations were too graphic and violent, my parents had it hidden in some closet as to keep it out of sight which had made it ever more desirable an object! I and my sister would sneak it out of its hiding hole and spend hours on end feverishly drinking in its pictures. Just like Shunga paintings, there was something extremely visceral in those severed heads, bulging eyes, hung out tongues, blood…. As horrifying as the experience was, we would always go back to repeat it.
For this new set, I was playing with the idea of injecting some sensuality into those raw battle scenes by adding the female figure on top and still letting some of the lines of the background to show through, the same way I used with Shunga-coupled pieces.