Everybody knows a place where graffiti is present. Buildings, bridges, train stations etc. But did you ever think about graffiti being placed on war scarred walls? No? Me neither but this is the work of Shamsia Hassani.
Shamsia is an Afghan graffiti artist, fine arts lecturer and professor at Kabul University. She paints over the war-affected places in Kabul to show people the war through her vibrant colored shapes and figures.
Hassani was born in Tehran but migrated to Afghanistan during the war. She was interested in painting from a very young age. Unfortunately students in Afghanistan weren’t permitted to learn art at her time.
She returned to Kabul and got herself a degree in fine arts at the Kabul University. Eventually she joined the university as a lecturer and now teaches oil painting. She even has her own contemporary art group called “Roshd” (growth).
In December 2010 she learned graffiti and became the first Afghan female artist to practice this kind of street art on the houses in Kabul. Her motto: “Art is stronger than war”. She proposed to organize annual graffiti workshops throughout the country to try making this art form being viewed more positively.
Shamsia often paints women in traditional clothing or women in symbolic shapes and fishes because they are symbols of the atmosphere around her and her own life experiences. In her graffiti she wishes to wash away the memories of long-time war taken place in her country. She wants to introduce this form of art to everybody. But because not everyone can afford to go to an art exhibition, she brings the exhibition to the people.
While doing all of this she is actually fighting for women’s rights. “I want to highlight the matter in the society, with paintings reflecting women in Burqas everywhere. I try to show them bigger than what they are in reality, and in modern forms, in shaped in happiness, movement, maybe stronger. I try to make people look at them differently.”
She was one of the top 10 artists for the second Afghan Contemporary Arts Prize in 2009. Since than she has been part of solo and group exhibitions all over the world.
As is that’s not enough, she’s also one of the founders of Berang Arts Organization. It came forth out of the Roshd group. Here are the other 9 candidates of the second Afghan Contemporary Arts Prize.