Shirana Shahbazi | Iran / Switzerland b.1974 | [Stilleben-22-2008] from ‘Flowers, fruits & portraits' series 2008 | Type C photograph on paper on aluminium ed. 3/5 (+ 1 AP) | 150 x 120cm; 150 x 120cm (comp.) | Purchased 2010 with funds from Tim Fairfax, AM, through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation | Collection: Queensland Art Gallery
[Stilleben-22-2008] from ‘Flowers, fruits & portraits' series 2008
Shirana Shahbazi creates images that are at once beautiful, evocative and ordinary. The Gallery has acquired a series of nine still-life photographs which were recently exhibited in APT6. Trained in photography and design in Germany and Switzerland, Shahbazi works across disciplines (photography, billboard painting, mural painting and weaving) and genres (portraiture, still life and landscape), drawing on the cultural traditions and histories of her native Iran as well as those of Europe. A key source is vanitas painting – a genre of still life produced in Europe during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries – which often included skulls and timepieces to remind viewers of the transience and brevity of life. Shahbazi juxtaposes such imagery with other still-life traditions, such as the flowers and birds of illuminated manuscripts, which reflect the centuries-old exchange of images and ideas between Persia, Mughal India, Europe and China.
Shahbazi uses the highly polished and hyper-real language of advertising and commercial photography to consider ideas of representation. In this suite of photographs, her imagery is both unique and generic: perishable fruits and flowers sit alongside a landscape, a butterfly, a blue monochrome and a skull against a candy-hued background. Shahbazi’s attention to colour, surface, and detail suggests a carefully staged approach that revels in both the artifice and the potential of the photographic image.