28 September 2023–14 November 2023

Woodcut Prints, 1981 to 1987

By Farideh Lashai

Leila Heller Gallery

Iranian artist Farideh Lashai’s solo show titled ‘Woodcut Prints, 1981 to 1987’, opening on 28th September 2023.

Starts 28 September 2023

Ends 14 November 2023

Venue Leila Heller Gallery

Warehouse 86/87


Farideh Lashai was born, in the year 1944, amid the lush, jungly, and foggy Caspian Sea coast—a landscape that would seep into her life and work for years to come. In 1950, the Lashai moved to Tehran and Farideh started school in the Gholhak neighborhood. As a child, she painted furiously. At home, her nickname became nakhash bashi, a riff on the Persian word for painter. She took lessons from Jafar Petgars. Before long, the walls of the Lashai home were festooned with her various paintings and drawings.

In 1962 she went to Germany with a will to study literature. In Munich, she enrolled at a school for translation, where she encountered the worlds of Heinrich Boll and other members of the famed Group 47 literary circle that came to prominence in the aftermath of World War II. But it was the epic theatre of Bertolt Brecht that most captivated her.

In 1966, Farideh took time off her studies and went to work at Riedel Studios, a celebrated glass manufacturer in Kufstein, Austria. There, she was trained in the art of crystal design and carving. Two years later, she had her first exhibition—it featured works made from crystal in a two-man show alongside Claus Riedel—at Milan’s Crystelleria Duomo. Also that year, she began work at Rosenthal in Bavaria, one of the world’s leading crystal manufacturers, where she further specialized in traditional arts.

Alongside her art, literary projects occupied much of Farideh’s time. In 1968, her translation of Brecht’s The Good Person of Szechwan, the chronicle of one woman’s uncommon quest for spiritual fulfillment, was published. It was the second translation of Brecht into Farsi. Mr. Puntila and his man Matti and The Days of Commune followed. Some of her own poems—full of love and longing and mystical verve—were published in a literary magazine called Jahan-e No. Farideh had her first solo show at Tehran Gallery in 1973, at least in part a meditation on nature. In these and others, the wild northern Iranian environments of her youth appear as a tangle of shapes and forms of colors, teetering between figuration and abstraction, coming and unbecoming.

Then, in 1974, her brother’s political transgressions caught up with Farideh, and she was arrested. In 1976, Farideh was released and married afterwards. Farideh and her husband had a child, divorced not long after, and she and her young daughter moved to America, where she was miserable. In spite of the war, Farideh returned to Iran.

Farideh held many exhibitions in and outside Iran. In the later 1990s and into the 2000s, she reengaged the art scene of her native land. In 2004 She participated in, an exhibition called ‘The Gardens of Iran’ at The Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art. More and more, Farideh gravitated toward the moving image, concocting elaborate animations that would, in turn, be projected onto the surface of her paintings. In the ensuing years, Farideh produced dynamic works based on Goya’s Disasters of War, Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, and Pasolini’s 1966 film Hawks and Sparrows. She also revisited her childhood love for the vexed figure of Mohammad Mossadegh.

In 2003 she published Shal Bamu (The Jackal Game), an idiosyncratic stream of consciousness memoir that, like her best paintings, evoke a psychic whirlwind of love and loss and memory. In her last years, she was steeped in readings about surrealism—the favored mode of artists and writers who had tried to escape the horrors of this world by imagining a hallucinatory alternative. At the time of her death from cancer at the age of 68, she was in the midst of reading Luis Bunuel’s My Last Sigh.