Born in Teheran (IR), works in Antwerp (BE).
Maryam Najd's (°1969) has roots in Tehran, but for the past several years Antwerp has been both her home and workplace. She works both purely abstract – using subtle colour gradations – and thematically figurative. What appear to be diverging concerns at first sight, turn out to be two sides of the same coin. Her figurative paintings are the most accessible to viewers; they demonstrate a reflective artistic process that simultaneously interweaves and unravels the social chasm dividing the two cultures. Najd juxtaposes the Middle East's oppressive and conflict-charged context with the West's utopia of “freedom”, and in doing so creates an open, but critical discourse between two opposing worlds.
Her work draws on a number of recurring themes: the corporeal versus the spiritual, Western women's freedom as expressed in the issue of naked versus veiled femininity, and the visible versus the invisible, for example the mysterious existence of anonymous refugees, migrants and world travellers. In her paintings Najd uses images that in their essence evoke the most pressing and frequently asked existential questions. Maryam Najd persistently seeks the point at which extremes intersect. Two people at sunset walk casually beside the ocean surf, while in the painting's foreground, a man lays stretched out on the beach; he's been wrapped in a sinister looking thermal shroud of shiny foil.
Painting with an overwhelming sense of empathy, and yet without drifting into the melodramatic, Maryam Najd portrays characters with exacting clarity that do full justice to their human dignity. Her portraits convey a sense of the artist's ability to position herself within the European tradition, while not sacrificing her “Eastern” perspective. The migrants depicted are not impoverished beggars, but instead elegant characters, heads held high under ill-fated circumstances.
The connections she makes in her pieces are always unexpected, for instance between origin and yearning, between utopia and ideology, or between individuality and concealed beauty. In the end, it all revolves around the concept of freedom, not just as a goal in and of itself, but also as a philosophical concept and eternal point of enquiry. Is freedom a right or a gift? Is it a challenge or a trial? And what about the freedom to commit transgressions?
Items View all
I was raised to be covere...
Maryam Najd , I was raised to be covered III, 2014. Leaflet, oil on canvas, 150 x 110cm.
Mediterranean Blanket II
Maryam Najd , Mediterranean Blanket II, 2016. Film, oil on canvas, 50 x 40 cm.
Events View all
EXTRA MUROS: Geel – Middl...
15 September 2018 - 04 November 2018.
Exhibition project Middle Gate II – The Story of Dymphna is a cooperation between M HKA, the Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp, and cultural
Salon de Peinture
17 January 2019 - 31 March 2019.
For those who were still in doubt: painting is thriving. In two M HKA spaces, the exhibition Salon de Peinture offers a picture of the curren
MONOCULTURE | A Recent Hi...
25 September 2020 - 25 April 2021.
Artists include: Hannah Höch, Lovis Corinth, Karl Hofer, George Grosz, Carol Rama, Werner Peiner, Belgian Institute for World Affairs, Joseph
Ensembles View all
Aanwinsten 2016 [Acquisit...
M HKA built up a substantial art collection from the former Soviet Union through earlier commitments in various movements, which can be used
GEWELD | VIOLENCE
It seems clear that in the case of Dymphna, the sting – t.i., the violence – is in the tail of her story, in the beheadings and the flickerin
MONOCULTURE – NATION
Nation State A nation state is a political entity regulated under a system of government which holds power within its defined territory, and