Safarani Sisters, Bahareh and Farzaneh (Iranian, b. 1990) began painting at the age of thirteen. They earned their B.A. in painting from Tehran University and M.F.A from Northeastern University, in Boston, Massachusetts. Currently working and residing in Boston, over the past few years the sisters took on a journey in incorporating video and performance art into their passion for painting. Their pioneering video-paintings and performances have been acclaimed as thought provoking and transformative artistic contributions that weave together loose but striking narratives.
Formally trained in painting (BFA, University of Tehran, 2013), the sisters shared a studio after their undergraduate studies, marking the beginning of their collaborative practice. At first, they sat as each other’s models out of convenience and necessity, but through this process they found their own voice:
“The kind of collaboration we do is also very special as far as we are trying to understand ourselves through our works and on the other hand, we paint each other, so it is kind of a self-reflection that make our paintings mysterious and our collaboration unique. We work without any words. I do my job and she does hers and it is like we are connected in our minds”.
Safarani Sisters have participated in numerous Solo and Group exhibitions, including “Projecting Her”, Adelson Galleries Boston 2016, “Reincarnation”, 2018 and “Sprinkle of Light”, 2021 with Roya Khadjavi Projects, New York, “Preview Exhibition” in Adelson Galleries, Palm Beach, Florida, “Body Double”, Morris Museum New Jersey. Their works can be found in numerous museums and private collections, including Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Massachusetts. Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts. Morris Museum, Morris town, New Jersey. Tank Shanghai, Shanghai, China.
Themes and Symbolism
The Safarani Sisters’ personal journeys of exploration and discovery, rooted in shared experience, provide the content for their work:
“One of the things that we like to discover in our life is the inner world of ourselves. Self-realization is a key to understand the world, life and people. We start by knowing ourselves before doing the work of our paintings. Our artworks are responses to our comprehension of the world achieved through the journey of self awareness.”
Whether rendered in oil on canvas or as video overlay, the main character in their artwork is a persona of the artists’ creation. They are quick to point out that although their physical features resemble the woman in their paintings and the narratives explored are inspired by their own experiences, these works are not self-portraits or autobiographical accounts.
After moving to Boston, Massachusetts, and securing their graduate degree in studio art (MFA, Northeastern University, 2016), they began to incorporate video projections onto their paintings. Light moving across a wall, curtains undulating with the breeze, or a shadowy figure entering a room now activates the painted surface, lending an air of poetry and mystery. These scripted, filmed segments add a layer of narrative tension, providing a theatrical nuance that reveals thesisters’ interest in performance. The shallow depth of their painted interiors sets the stage for an unfolding psychological portrait in which the main character undergoes dramatic transformation and self-realization.
“During our entire artistic career and since we began to collaborate with each other, we have created works that follow one woman who has been portrayed in almost all our works. This woman is exploring the world while she is shielded in a safe zone where no one can hurt her. She tries to confront every battle of life to become a stronger and less vulnerable person. We use simple symbols that evoke meaning— windows with natural light coming through them, curtains that cover the windows and lights, the chaos in the world beyond the windows in contrast to the silence and peace she carries with herself inside where she lives—in our work”
We entera new world
with so many wishes.
We wish we could have the umbilical with us
to attach and detach ourselves
from anything we so desire.
We wish we could disconnect ourselves
from yesterday’s thoughts
and be reborn today.
We wish we could save ourselves
from unwanted unconscious memories of the past and give the authority of our bridle
to the wiser part of ourselves,
living every second of life with joy.
We wish we could hear the tonal and atonal music of life and learn to dance with harmony and discord, leading us to the meaning of the red line
that limits our safety zone.
And if one crosses it,
safety is no longer guaranteed.
Safarani Sisters, 2023