Najd Maryam - Sky

2004 - Oil on canvas - 200 x 155

Maryam Najd (° 1969) is from Tehran but has lived and worked in Antwerp for many years. She works both purely abstract - with subtle gradations of color - and thematically figurative. What at first glance seem to be very different concerns appear to be two sides of the same coin. She gives the most immediate access in her figurative paintings; they show a reflective artistic process that intertwines or unravels the social contradictions between the two cultures. Najd contrasts the oppressive and conflict-laden context of the Middle East with the utopia of Western "freedom." In this way she conducts an open but critical dialogue between two opposing worlds. Recurring themes in her work are physicality versus spirituality, the freedom of the Western woman as expressed in the problems of the naked versus the veiled femininity, and the visible versus the invisible, for example the mysterious existence of anonymous refugees, migrants or world travelers. . In her paintings Najd uses images that in their essence raise the most current existential questions. Maryam Najd always looks for the focal point where the extremes meet. Two people casually walk along the surf of the sea at sunset, but in the foreground of the painting a man is stretched out on the beach; wrapped in a nasty type of thermal envelope of shiny foil. With a lot of empathy, yet without becoming pathetic, Maryam Najd portrays razor-sharp characters in all their human dignity. In her portraits you can feel the hand of the artist who can situate her within the European tradition of which she is a part, but she nevertheless does not abandon her Eastern view. The migrants are not impoverished beggars, but elegant and proud characters in a fateful situation. In her work, the artist always draws unexpected lines, for example between origin and craving, between utopia and ideology, or between individuality and hidden beauty. In the end, everything revolves around the concept of freedom, not only as a goal in itself, but also as a philosophical concept and as an enduring question. Is freedom a right or a favor? A challenge or an ordeal? And what about the freedom to sin?

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