The themes of Iranian artist Samira Alikhanzadeh’s paintings revolve around human personal relationships, weaving in ideas of national and personal identity as well as the illusion and ephemerality of societal changes between the past decades and the present. For the past decade she has primarily used found Iranian family portraits from the 1930’s to 1950’s and painted over or added strips of mirrors to them to express these ideas. By western standards, these seemingly bland family portraits point to a time of apparent freedom, when women were forced by the Shah to look westernized and not wear hijab.
The eyes in many cases have been covered by a piece of mirror, except where a more arresting gaze is desired. In this sense the gaze is what its all about, for in traditional niqab or chador attire the eyes are the only part revealed, while the rest of the body is covered from head to toe in the mono-coloured dress.