Iranian, b. 1986
Lives and works in Baltimore, MD
Taha Heydari’s striking, large-scale canvases examine the power of images—and the role of the spectator—in politics, propaganda, and the shaping of culture and identity. Particularly of interest to Heydari are the ways in which the seductive power of media imagery is being used to shape perceptions and outcomes in the the United States and the Middle East.
Heydari begins each new painting by culling from his growing archive of source material, news and media artefacts gleaned from research in libraries and on the Internet. His paintings are painstakingly executed with minutely detailed brushwork, but appear pixelated and fragmented, approximating the digital image in the moment of a glitch, when an error occurs in transmission. The beauty of Heydari’s paintings invites closer inspection, which yields an array of ominous associations.
In his most recent series of works, Heydari draws covers of the Iranian women’s magazine Zan-e Rooz (Woman of Today) published just before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, with glossy pages featuring a modern, secular, cosmopolitan subject unwittingly posed on the precipice of her own extinction. Heydari works and reworks these images in an attempt to understand the dichotomy of his native Iran as it was pictured before and after the Revolution.
Heydari received his BFA from the Art University of Tehran and an MFA from the LeRoy E. Hoffberger School of Painting at the Maryland Institute of College of Art in Baltimore. His work has been presented in solo exhibitions in Iran, New York, and San Francisco, including his first institutional solo at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem, NC in 2017; as well as group exhibitions in Baltimore, Amsterdam, Dubai, London, Antwerp and Berlin. He has been nominated for the prestigious Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize (2017), and the Bethesda Painting Awards (2019).