meet an artist mondayForoozan Shirghani’s dark, poetic and eerily surrealist paintings, drawings, ceramics, moody video, and expressive textiles take root in a worldview colored by injustice, displacement, loss, and isolation. Rather than resist life’s slings and arrows, she follows the currents of the troubled sea — devising schematic compositions that are neither abstract nor figurative, depicting beings as embodied psyches in scenarios of fragmentation and, as the title of her new exhibition suggests, alienation. In her work, objects have a symbolic and shapeshifting nature expressing dysfunctional social structures and consequently contorted human behaviors. Despite the darkness of her iconography, Shirghani’s cool, stone palette, smooth shadows, and the presence, however distant, of a light source — a window, an egress, oculus, distant lantern, cold sun — demonstrates the persistence of life, and with it, hope. Her new exhibition opens this week at Advocartsy in West Hollywood.

meet surrealist artist foroozan shirghani

Foroozan Shirghani, In pursuit of light, Acrylic and Oil on Canvas, 48 x 72 in, 2021 (Courtesy of Advocartsy)

L.A. WEEKLY: What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?

FOROOZAN SHIRGHANI: I would have chosen something that deals with exploration, mystery and intuition — something connected to history and culture, like archaeology, anthropology or ethnography. I also wouldn’t say no to being a gardener or carpenter.


What is your short answer to people who ask what your work is about?

My work is about displacement, alienation, fragility, vulnerability, loss, suffering, and the pressure exerted on the human body by these forces. I address these life-altering situations with fragmentation, deformation, and often the destruction of my subjects and media.


When did you first know you were an artist?

As far as I can remember, whenever I was lonely I was always making things: stitching, gluing, and drawing. I don’t know whether all the things that have been driving me to discover a world beyond routine rules and regulations are called art or not. I’m still trying to figure out what art is and whether or not I am an artist.

Foroozan Shirghani, The birth of light, Acrylic and Oil on Canvas, 72 x 60 in, 2019 (Courtesy of Advocartsy)

What artist living or dead would you most like to show with?

There are so many! Hieronymus Bosch, Pieter Bruegel, Caravaggio, Francisco GoyaKäthe Kollwitz, William Kentridge, Louise Bourgeois, Philip Guston, Anselm Kiefer, Lucian Freud….the list can go on.


When is/was your current/most recent/next show?

My first solo exhibition in the U.S. will be at Advocartsy in West Hollywood, from March 30–April 29. Join us at the opening reception on Saturday, March 30, 7-9pm.


Do you listen to music while you work? If so what?

Yes, music helps me experience and give form to the unknown. I listen to a wide range from classical to minimal, depending on my mood. Generally, I like folk music with a touch of contemporary arrangements, and I have a particular fondness for the folk music of my homeland, Iran. Also, I listen to my favorite podcasts and audiobooks when I need to focus on more executive work.

Foroozan shirghani, Utopia or Dystopia?, Acrylic and Oil on Canvas, 48 x 72 in, 2021 (Courtesy of Advocartsy)

Did you go to art school? Why/Why not?

I have an MFA in painting from Alzahra University in Tehran. Although a graduate degree is not necessary to make art, I think attending art school facilitated my career.


Website and social media handles, please!


Foroozan Shirghani, Embracement, Acrylic and Oil on Canvas, 60 x 72 in, 2020 (Courtesy of Advocartsy)

















































































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