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Sanam Sayeh Afkan

About the artist

Sanam Sayeh Afkan was born in 1989 in Rasht, Iran. Lives and works in Tehran. Graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Management from Payam Noor University of Gilan (Iran, 2013). Participant of the Istanbul Contemporary Art Fair (2022, 2023). Solo and group exhibitions have taken place in Iran and the United States.

Sanam Sayeh Afkan creates an atmosphere full of illusions and reveries. In the artist’s life-like paintings, her vibrant contrasting colors and collage of mismatching images produce an absurd, inverted world. The paintings lack a coherent narrative and integrity, which creates different interpretations of the plot and makes it impossible to predict its development. As in a dream, the viewer can unravel images and invent stories, exploring their own self. As the artist herself states: “The viewer finds themselves in a labyrinth of familiar and unfamiliar elements, suspended between dreams and reality, searching, trapped in a timelessness, silence and frozen collaged space.”

In her work, Sanam Sayeh Afkan applies the “stream of consciousness” approach, which was inspired by the multidimensional narrative structure in twentieth-century postmodern literature by writers such as Haruki Murakami, Paul Auster, Jorge Luis Borges and William Faulkner. The work on each painting begins with mental impressions, deep layers of memories, a selection of random images from magazines and news. The artist constructs continuous labyrinth-like structures out of them, unpredictable but interconnected.

Sanam Sayeh Afkan’s stylistics is formed under the influence of artists of different epochs, there are the dynamic graphics of the Japanese cartoonist Kawanabe Kyōsai of the Edo period of the XIX century, and emotional theatrical scenes of the Romantic era by Theodore Géricault of the XVIII-XIX centuries, and the American neo-expressionism of the second half of the XX century by David Salle, known for his collage method of work, which is the closest to the artist.

Selected solo exhibitions:
2021 “Labyrinth”. Bavan Gallery, Tehran
2020 “The cavity of memory – online viewing”. Bavan Gallery, Tehran

Selected group exhibitions:
2024 “Evocation Field”. Mey Gallery, West Hollywood, California, USA
2023 “Reoriented”. Mey Gallery, West Hollywood, California, USA
2023 “Sight and Insight: A place for Us”. Bavan Gallery, Tehran
2021 “There are no rules for connecting us”. Bavan Gallery (Online Exhibition), Tehran
2019 “Episode 04″. Mohsen gallery, Tehran
2018 Iranian painting expo. Tehran
2018 “Vista Prize Exhibition”. Vista Gallery, Tehran

Art fairs:
2023 Contemporary Istanbul Art Fair, Bavan Gallery booth, Istanbul
2022 Contemporary Istanbul Art Fair, Bavan Gallery booth, Istanbul
2021 JINGART Art Fair (Online Exhibition), Bavan Gallery
2020 Teer Art Fair (Online Exhibition), Bavan gallery booth
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