Delbar Shahbaz: Land Is Feeling, Color Is Remedy
434 N La Cienega Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Color disappeared, particularly from my sculpture work when I moved to the US. Instead, I utilized only texture, and rough textures at that. These rough textures exemplified the coarse feelings of separation from my homeland. With the explosion of the women’s revolution, so too was there an explosion of color back into my work. It is a kind of chromatic bleeding, a flow of pain but also a gift of color I need to give to my people. I believe it is courageous to use this much color.
This body of work is ultimately about light and movement. By making use of light and movement, by painting and attending to the play of light on land and water, I am honoring and moving through its opposite: shadow and pain. In the wake of the shadows of revolution, and in order to see myself in this fog of darkness, I created this series of works depicting the process of moving away from a darkness. I depict water in motion as a form of connection. Bodies of water are always moving, and that movement—the churning of the ocean—to me, is the opposite of stasis or staying still. In that motion I find growth, a way to keep myself moving, a way to process and regenerate from suffering.
The dark layers come first in my process; I make the light out of and on top of the darkness to speak toward a brighter horizon in the future. Here I’m casting light to my people; the light of hope, happiness, and a bright future for the land, a land that has been pilfered by dictators. The light is a premonition: Before something happens, you feel its emergence.
The core elements in these paintings are women and animals—animals which are hybrids or mythical creatures. These animals have a dreamlike quality to evoke imagination and a shared dream. They are, like the water, embodying movement. The image of the bird serves as a symbol of freedom in many cultures, but I focus in particular on the wing. The wing serves as a symbol of power—physical and spiritual—that is necessary to provide a view or perspective of real life; this perspective is necessary for change, and it is necessary to move through suffering. The female figures in this series are literal symbols of heroism; it is, after all, a women’s revolution in my country. I am a part of this revolution because I grew up in this dictatorship. While I’m not in the land, I am connected to that land through water. Water is connection, land is feeling, and colors are a remedy.
I strengthen the connection to the revolution through movement, light, and color.
Multi-disciplinary artist Delbar Shahbaz works across painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, and video.
Of central concern to her practice is the negotiation of gender identity, transformation, and emancipation as well as human connection to the natural realm. Delbar engages with self-identity as fluid, socially constructed, and multifaceted. She responds to her own experiences as a female migrant yet connects her subjectivity to the universal subject matter.
Over the last two decades, Delbar has moved between various media and conceptual concerns yet a preoccupation with women’s freedoms and liberties unites her oeuvre. Delbar’s compositions mine far-reaching influences, from ancient fertility totems to the writings of outsider female authors. The artist establishes her own fantastical universes where lovable and loathsome creatures – rendered via textured corporeal forms – embody various facets of the self that enter into dialogue.
Delbar received her MFA from Art University in Tehran, Iran in 2008. She went on to pursue a career as a professional artist and educator before migrating to the USA in 2013. Delbar received her second MFA from the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles, CA; she has been working as a part-time faculty member there since 2016. Delbar has exhibited as a solo artist and in group shows extensively internationally.