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SAGHAR DAEIRI Cenneti Beklerken 150x120 cm Tuval üzerine Suluboya&Akrilik 2019 .jpeg


“Swallow, Kiss, Burn”: A commentary on the grotesque beauty of Saghar Daeiri

Saghar Daeiri's new painting series is the pinnacle of his unique grotesque understanding. Daeiri is an artist who cares about seeing and emphasizing the deformed, disgusting, funny, ugly, mysterious, mismatched and repulsive aspects of the world she lives in. The grotesque is not one-dimensional but always two-dimensional in his depictions, both mundane and sublime, well-conformed and discordant, submissive and confrontational. In her painting series titled “Shopping Malls of Tehran”, which she exhibited in 2009, Daeiri depicts women whose faces have been deformed after plastic surgery and who fall into an identity crisis. These works are followed by pictures of rebellious high school students who freely reveal their subjectivity by taking off their headscarves in 2011.

In his new series, Daeiri focuses on the mythology and archetypal images of the Middle East. It adopts the spatiality principle of Iranian miniature art. The images he exhibits are located in the “Garden of Iran”, which traditionally represents paradise. But the arched plants, roses, green labyrinths, fountains, and ponds, which are the hallmarks of the Persian Garden, have become symbolic landscapes of strayed utopias. In paintings, idealistic dreams turn into perverse illusions, hopeful fantasies turn into sad reality.

The artist's use of full and vibrant watercolors can give a sense of happiness to those who visit the exhibition at first glance. However, when you look closely at the heroes of the paintings, this feeling disappears. The protagonists of the paintings are the beautiful companion houris, who are promised to faithful Muslim men in Paradise, where they will go after their death. But the houris of Daeiri are far from meeting this expectation; these houris are not loyal to their archetypes. They sunbathe and swim in stinking spaces surrounded by strange creatures. They wear dresses made of unusual fabrics; their sexual orientation is unclear; their bodies do not resemble popular and commercialized images of beauty; these bodies are saggy, overweight, old. Doomsday-like scenes of destruction appear in the backgrounds of the paintings; The houris are either unaware of these sights or are waiting for them calmly.

In this first solo exhibition in Turkey, Daeiri brings a queer perspective to the idea of Islamic afterlife through contemporary art. Daeiri not only goes deep into the souls of the houris, presenting them as free subjects; At the same time, it transforms paradise, which is generally thought of as a place where houris serve traditional male pleasures, into an indefinite search for an afterlife.


Article: Persefoni Myrtsou

Translation: Nedim NOMER

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