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Shiva Ahmadi Featured in Modern Painter Magazine

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Shiva Ahmadi is featured in Shiva Ahmadi Animates Tales of Violence and Beauty”, an article about Ahmadi’s latest paintings and new animated work in Modern Painters Magazine by Sehba Mohammad.

Sugarcoating a grotesque message” is how Detroit-based Shiva Ahmadi, in her strong Farsi accent, describes her aesthetic trickery. Populated by folkloric creatures, the artist’s pastel-hued fantasyscapes in watercolor on Aquabord — a textured hardboard panel coated with clay — reveal dark undertones that assert themselves in washes of blood-red ink and carefully rendered grenades.

Ahmadi’s recent work addresses ideas she has been toying with for eight years: the selfish motives, masked in moral ideology, that drive armed conflict; the pervasive nature of corruption; and the political dynamics of social injustice. Lotus, 2013, portrays, on a wildly patterned pistachio ground, an enthroned leader, turbaned and faceless, his body dissolving into velvety maroon abstraction. His ornate throne, inscribed with Allah, sits on a bed of lotus flowers similar to those found in 18th-century Tibeto-Chinese Buddha statuettes. An array of underlings — horses, birds, and monkeys — surrounding him make offerings of ticking time bombs. The turmoil and fantastical use of animals in the three-panel work echo both the Garden of Earthly Delights of Hieronymus Bosch and the ancient Persian epic Hamzanama.

After completing Lotus, Ahmadi came to feel that transmission of her message — unchecked political power backed by dogma inevitably ends in social destruction — was restricted by the static quality of painting, so she decided to convert it into animation. The resulting 10-minute film, Lotus, 2014, is on view through August 3 at the Asia Society in New York. I don’t consider myself a digital artist,” she declares, but for the sake of my concepts, animation is the perfect medium.”

- Shiva Ahmadi Animates Tales of Violence and Beauty”, by Sehba Mohammad — Modern Painters Magazine, June 2014