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“Finding the Last Flower”: the answer of the Iranian artist Lida Sherafatmand to ‘Shock Doctrines’

From 1st to 7th July 2019 in La Biennale di Venezia, the Iranian-born artist Lida Sherafatmand will display “Finding the Last Flower”, an exhibition where she answers the shocking but unavoidable daily news -using examples of atrocious ISIS attacks-, the “new normal” violence in videogames and striking PR campaigns, with blossoming and voluptuous flowers. The exhibition aims to show the overuse of shock value in our time that ran the risk of desensitizing people.

Lida was born in Iran and lived life circumstances of war, revolution during childhood. Later on, she grew up as refugee dealing with statelessness, loss of wealth and poverty. Due to those experiences, she feels a responsibility in her artworks to contribute to her surroundings. As quoted in previous press coverages, her motto is: “The more I hear violent news, the more I paint gentle flowers.” The artistic itinerary of Lida started at three years old when her birth city in the south of Iran, Khorramshahr, got destroyed in war bombardments at the beginning of Iran-Iraq war.

The artworks want the audience to interpret social realities through concepts such as peace and beauty, rather than anxiety and panic. To amplify the atmosphere of chaos and fear, Ms Sherafatmand provides printings of real current news related to the theme of each painting, for example, the Syrian civil war, children dying of starvation in Yemen, and Iran’s imprisonment of the Sakharov Laureate Nasrin Sotoudeh. The paintings are meant to inspire refreshed spirits and new insights into viewers’ minds for dealing with such social challenges.

The solo exhibition – which includes 14 mural size canvases- is placed in the Palazzo Zenobio, where the visitors would find an installation with a set of cushions placed in a river-like setting of water, in front of the canvases to observe the image and meditate. The river water setting in the exhibition represents the emotional side, stimulating processing and flow.

Ms Sherafatmand has coined the artistic concept of “Florescencism” and brings it to La Biennale: “If I can pass on knowledge through symbolism and beauty of flowers, I am happy to be speaking to my audience with the gentle language of flowers, because my eyes have seen enough of violence. This concept is a philosophy of flowering based on human nature, with a floral language in painting. It is my small contribution both to the artistic world and to the field of international relations.”

In honour of the American author and cartoonist James Thurber’s “The Last Flower”, which asked us to seek for the last flower in the midst of World War II, Lida’s retrospective exhibition is an invitation for the viewers to find the last flower in any situation, in any condition, and in any day of our life.

Two of the paintings will feature on the front cover of two upcoming political science books by Cambridge University Press. The books are: “What is Iran? Iran in five symphonies” by Professor Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, and “Reason and Cause” by Professor Richard Ned Lebow.

Lida’s art is much engaged with social science and neuro-science. She is currently a fellow at the HWK Institute for Advanced Study in Germany indeed carrying out artistic research combined with social science and neurology.

As one of the most important cultural institution in Europe, La Biennale – “the so-called art world Olympics”- has an attendance of over 500,000 visitors yearly at the Art Exhibition by combining glamour and historical importance in the unique city of Venice.

The exhibition runs from 1st to 7th July 2019, at La Biennale di Venezia, Palazzo Zenobio, Venice, Italy.

Concomitant exhibition of Official Pavilion of People’s Republic of Bangladesh

58th Venice Biennale

For more information on Lida Sherafatmand: