School of Art, Media, and Technology

Fine Arts Faculty Maryam Hoseini’s film premiered as part of the Art21 New York Close Up series

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Every Day Abstractions

How does a painter translate the real into the abstract? From her Brooklyn studio, Maryam Hoseini explores the spaces in between painting and drawing, figuration and abstraction, and the personal experiences embedded in her work and the multiple interpretations viewers can bring to it. As she flips through her pencil drawings and resumes work on an acrylic painting, the artist recounts her early interest in drawing classes and the strong, female art teacher in her native Iran that inspired her. Hoseini’s current work depicts fragmented—often female—bodies floating in abstract, flattened architectural spaces, in suggestive, but open-ended narratives.

With her work shown at major exhibitions around the world, Hoseini explains the concept behind her recently commissioned series of paintings for an exhibition coinciding with the 58th Venice Biennale. A reimagining of the famous 12th-century poem about Laylah and Majnun, Hoseini’s paintings focus on the female character in the legend, a woman who, as the artist puts it, “was banned from speaking and desiring what she really wanted.”

This sense of fear and anxiety, punctuated with strength and humor, pervade Hoesini’s work. The artist tracks the evolution of her style, coming to the conclusion that her choice to depict fragmented, headless bodies and fractured, illegible spaces reflects her “own personal experiences and life as an immigrant and as a person who is not even able to travel to my country and to return to my work and life here in America.”

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