"Expression of the human condition is complex. My work explores the complexity of human suffering and how it manifests in the body.
Growing up, I watched as the results of the Iranian revolution left its psychological footprint on my family. My work speaks directly to the experience, and subsequent retelling of that experience, of my parents living under that regime. I imagine the figures in my work as casualties of the Iranian regime. I have experienced first hand the rage and trauma of such individuals, and how it visually projects in distinct ways.
I think of my paintings as stages, mimicking such emotionally handicapped figures. In a way, I am creating a psychological tableau of the people around me. By revealing the humanity and suffering of these subjects, I hope to address the sad absurdity of the situation. I strive to visualize the subject’s feelings, thought and stressors through the figures’ expressions and distorted bodies. Such exaggerated figures are a representation of how I see the people around me. The specific circumstances I have experienced through my Iranian family have informed a practice that highlights a pervasive lack of spirituality. In a way, I am holding up an exaggerated mirror to the victims of the Iranian revolution, in part as an attempt to get my subjects to question their current condition. I likewise hold this mirror up to the rest of the world, as both a question and an indictment of a pervasive malaise.
I distance myself from my subjects in my paintings, to try and understand them and the circumstances better. Like the expressionists, I present my experience from a subjective perspective, while distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods and ideas. I take inspiration from Caravaggio’s chiaroscuro when manipulating the lighting to render the figure. The slight distortions of my figures, along with the color palette, are used to exaggerate the intensity and expression, which can be traced back to Egon Schiele and Francisco Goya. The layering of oil paint, influenced by J.M.W. Turner’s atmospheric scumbling of dry paint, is used to create a surreal atmosphere while bringing depth to my thoughts by slowly building it up through layers."
Feature artist: Marjan Kaviani-Arani
Artwork title: HOMA
Medium: Oil on canvas
Marjan Kaviani-Arani is an Iranian-Canadian artist based in the Toronto and Guelph area. Her work explores the complexity of human suffering and how it manifests in the body. She graduated from the Claude Watson Arts Program and now attends the University of Guelph and is completing her major in Studio Art and minor in Psychology.
In 2022, she has received awards such as the Jane Graham Memorial Award and Honorable Mention in Guelph’s Juried Art Show. She recently had solo shows at Homer Watson House and Gallery in Kitchener, as well as the Boarding House Arts Gallery in Guelph.
Selection of Recent work