Iranian artist Golnaz Afraz lives and works near Strasbourg, France. Born in Tehran in 1981, she completed her undergraduate degree in Painting at the University of Azad in her native city before obtaining two Masters in Fine Art, the first conferred by the University of Tarbiat Modarres in Tehran in 2007 and the second by the University of Strasbourg in France in 2011.
Golnaz won the 2023 Villa Seurat Foundation commission to create a monumental painting for the permanent collection of the Maison des étudiants de la Francophonie in the Cité International Universitaire de Paris campus, which was unveiled earlier this year.
In 2015 Golnaz won Saatchi Art’s Showdown: The Painted World competition, which was entered by over 5,000 artists worldwide and culminated in an exhibition of work by the 30 shortlisted artists in Los Angeles. The judges singled out her masterful use of colour and distinctive compositional style.
In her work Golnaz pays tribute to everyday life in all its technicoloured complexity. Her intention is to create a story and to allow the viewer to draw their own conclusions. The starting point might be the memory of a scene from daily life or from a play or film she has seen. Golnaz also comments on her native country Iran’s treatment of women as second-class citizens and its stifling of their freedom of expression, as well as on women in general who find themselves unheard, either in their relationships or in society. Her female figures are often depicted with their eyes closed or their faces partially obscured by leaves or flowers to symbolise the veil.
A selection of Golnaz’s recent work is a direct response to the protests in Iran, paying tribute to some of young protesters who have died at the hands of the country’s security forces and to the brave women and men making their voices heard.
Golnaz paints this reality in multiple layers, depicting various fragments of time on the same plane and superimposing forms. She leaves sections of her paintings unfinished or in sketch form to invite the viewer’s interpretations and give the work space to breathe. Her juxtaposition of colourful, expressive painted areas, blank spaces and snapshot-style line-drawn figures interacting in everyday situations, arranged apparently randomly across the canvas, creates unique compositions of immense vitality, in which, ultimately, the graphic quality prevails.
Golnaz has participated in numerous exhibitions and art fairs in Europe and the Middle East since 2005, most recently a solo show at Galerie Latuvu near Narbonne, which was the culmination of an artist’s residency there. 2023 also saw her take part in a group show at Galerie Au-delà des apparences in Annecy. Other recent exhibitions and art fairs include solo shows at Galerie Brûlée, Strasbourg, in 2022, Galerie Autour de l’image in Lyon in 2021, Art Montpellier art fair with Galerie Latuvu in 2021, a two-person show in Galerie Brûlée in 2021 and a group show there in 2020, group shows at Courant d’art gallery in Mulhouse in 2021, Galerie Latuvu in 2020 and 2019 and Autour de l’image in 2020, Art Karlsruhe art fair in 2020, solo shows at Galerie Brûlée in Strasbourg and at La Vill’A Illkirch in France in 2019, a group show at the DD Gallery in Izad Shahr in Iran in 2016 and Artexpotehran art fair with Farvahr Gallery (Tehran) in 2012.
Golnaz has exhibited with Gala Fine Art at Battersea Affordable Art Fair since 2017 and London Art Fair since 2022. In November 2023, Gala Fine Art showed new work by Golnaz at the Affordable Art Fair in Amsterdam. In 2024, her paintings will be exhibited on Gala Fine Art’s stand at London Art Fair in January and Amsterdam Affordable Art Fair in November.