A life that promised riches but was then followed by the horrors of imprisonment lays behind the works of art on show now in Warwickshire.
Souren Mousavi’s exhibition at Gallery150 in Leamington features varied works focusing on the female form, her Persian heritage and the fight for freedom.
Souren was born in Iran in 1969 with an Iranian mother, Baraini father and claiming an ancestral line linked to the Persian monarchy. She gained an MA in Fine Art at the University of Teheran, and used her art in the fight for women’s right. She was arrested, her images of women being considered pornographic and offensive to the regime, and she was imprisoned for eight years before coming to the UK in 2006, and living first in London and now Stratford.
Throughout it all she has continued to paint, with the nude female form and the need for freedom still her focus.
Unbelievably for someone who had already suffered so much, she broke her back in a gardening accident two and a half years ago, and spent months in hospital.
Six months ago she started looking to stage her own exhibition, and came across Gallery150 to show the paintings that come from her innermost feelings.
Looking as though her thoughts were a long way from Leamington for a minute, speaking at the opening Souren said: “All my paintings are a reflection of my feeling and experiences and humanity, and the bad times I have had in the past.
“It’s been years ago but I am still seeing a counsellor and trying to cope with every day as it comes. Some people write and some paint. I have found it quite good therapy.”
Her works have previously been shown in exhibitions in London, Geneva and Vienna, and those here are watercolours, acrylics and oil paints.
Souren says in particular she is enjoying working in watercolours, finding she can relate the sensitive, dedicated nature of the paint with her own experiences.
The works are varied in style, some paintings in oil of the ideal nude female form. Others are more symbolic of Souren’s life. Why features a naked woman, head bowed, arms open, asking about her life as the seemingly abstract landscape slowly reveals contorted human forms.
The Bridge seems to be just that until you see the curled up body of a woman underneath, and Dream also features distorted and contorted faces and bodies.
One painting shows a woman cracking in half to just reveal a blood-red interior, and in other works the pretty colours and shapes belie a deeper meaning as the people emerge.
Another series shows Souren exploring her heritage, with classical Persian images and statues included in the human scenes.
Visit to see the outpourings of a woman who paid the price for her art as she strived for freedom and is still seeking it through her work.
* Souren will be giving a talk at the gallery on Tuesday, November 6 from 7-8pm.