Farnaz Zabetian was born and raised in Tehran, Iran. She started painting when she was 10 years old.
Zabetian received her BFA from Azad Art and Architecture University in 1998, Tehran, Iran.
 For 10 years before coming to United States, Zabetian taught art history, illustration, painting at several Art Universities in Tehran, Iran. Her work was always well received and written a bout in art magazine and publications.
Zabetian has had 12 solo shows and 9 group ones.She exhibited in Sondouzi Art Museum in 2008 and her work was choosen to be displayd in Saad Abad Museum in 2009. She recently had have solo show at Live Warms Gallery in San Francisco in 2015.
Zabetian has been accepted to the Society of Iranian painters in 2001 (STP) and she also received her MFA from Azad Art and Architecture in 2001 Tehran, Iran.

Farnaz Zabetians paintings portray manifestation of her mindset that pays attention to the events of daily life .She represents visual storytelling about maitreated women. Migration is the new step in Zabetians journey and her professional work, an experience that complements her previous learnings and something that will certainly influence her future work.

The women in my paintings mirror the image of all eastern women from the part of the world where I come from. These women are a perpetuation of old and deep tumors that have been engrained in an eastern woman like me. A woman who from birth is in a struggle with social taboos, so much so that she will not know how to act without them.
An eastern woman is always in a struggle to display a strong and stable woman or a mother with all of what has been predetermined for her. An eastern woman will put up with the erosion of her soul so her fragility will not be apparent. She puts up a strong front for their masks. My paintings depict these women who have silently pulled these masks off their face to bare all of their complexities, hurts and all the untold secrets.
My symbolic and expressive look at a woman’s portrait is along the same line as the private thoughts that yearn to expose their wounded souls. The fishes and the crows in my paintings are metaphoric displays of fertility of an eastern woman and the chaotic side of her life.


MFA Painting / Azad Art and Architecture, Tehran, Iran
BFA Painting / Azad Art and Architecture, Tehran, Iran

Solo Shows:

 Live Worms Gallery / San Francisco, CA / 2015

Mehrva Gallery / Tehran, Iran / 2011

Vally Gallery / Tehran, Iran / 2010
Mehrva Gallery / Tehran, Iran / 2009

Vally Gallery / Tehran, Iran / 2008

Sondouzi Art Museum / Tehran, Iran / 2008

Vally Gallery / Tehran, Iran / 2007

Zangar Gallery / Tehran, Iran / 2006
Mehrva Gallery / Tehran, Iran / 2006

Vally Gallery / Tehran, Iran / 2005

Vally Gallery / Tehran, Iran / 2005
Vally Gallery / Tehran, Iran / 2004

Barg Gallery / Tehran, Iran / 2003

Group Shows:
Pasargad Gallery / Tehran, Iran / 2010

Mehrva Gallery / Tehran, Iran / 2009

Saad Abaad Art Museum / Tehran, Iran / 2008

Niavaran Art Museum / Tehran, Iran / 2007

Saad Abaad Art Museum / Tehran, Iran / 2007

Pardis Mellat Gallery / Tehran, Iran / 2006

Vally Gallery / Tehran, Iran / 2006
Boom Rang Gallery / Tehran, Iran / 2005

Associate Member of Society of Iranian Painters, Tehran, Iran

Associate Member of Society of California Art Club,Los Angeles, CA
A Look at the Paintings of Farnaz Zabetian
A Painterly Autobiography
Ahmadreza Dalvand
Only when a painter does not know what he/she does, he/she creates a good work.
“Edgar Degas”

Until before invention of camera, the art of painting was the only medium of human image, in the manner that recording a human image was only possible by the painters. It means that visualization of states, motions and aspects of a face was possible only by serving of the owner of that face as a model. Imaging of a face, whether by the skill of a painter or by specialization of a photographer, was always one of the creative ways to discover self in the context of reality, in the world of imagination and within the scope of technology. Still (and always and as long as man exists), portraying is and will be a quite human, borderless and global art. In portraying, an artist’s work is like walking on a long and narrow wall: Exciting moments that are spent quickly by continuous looks at the lines of the portrait of a model. Complicated measurement, precision, elegance and harmony of hand, eye and mind, execution of an image that if results in anything other than similarity of the work or the portrait, will leave no prestige for the artist. Basically, looking exactly at the human’s face and reading his face as a psychological zone that reveals several secrets from the depth of man’s mine has been addressed as an irresistible curiosity since several centuries ago. Saingmien face reading dates back to more than 3,000 years ago. Face reading achieved perfection at the time of Confucius. Confucius has said, “A child cannot change his face, but an adult is responsible for his/her face.” Face recognition was a secret which was only available to the Chinese emperor and the Chinese rulers protected that like a precious treasure. Saingmien specialists kept that science between themselves like a secret for several years.
Self-portrait is one of the types of face painting. It sometimes acts as a short biography and sometimes can reflect the feeling of an individual about himself/herself. Self-portrait is like a daily calendar, a confession, a narrative or a period. Painting of a model is another type of face painting. If anyone can draw a portrait with exact similarity, shadows and exact lines of the model in front of him, he will be highly accepted both by the public and specialized people throughout the world.
But the portraits drawn by Farnaz Zabetian are neither self-portraits created by a mirror and qualification of painter nor are drawn from a live model. Nature of these works is such that we have to address two points in their identification. First, we should consider them like an even, and second, we have to judge about some of them without any prejudice. Because these works provide us with such as belief that we accept them as manifestations of unconscious. Control of unknown events appearing from the depth of unconscious technically requires a dazzling skill and mentally requires an extraordinary power. These two characteristics flourish in an artist by gaining experiences in life, but Zabetian is still young for both fields. It should be noted that a few artists achieve such position and they are those who are mentioned as “Exceptions”. But Farnaz Zabetian has given her heart to experience and her mind to dream by continuity and dare. It should be immediately noted that she has a long way to establishment of a connection between her “Conscious” and “Unconscious”. However, it seems that she has aimed large targets. There is a kind of technical interruption in some of Zabetian’s works in the absolute painterly process that makes her repair and reconstruction her work. But the more she works, the farther she gets from the course of unconscious that makes the work uniqueness. Zabetian’s works are defendable thanks to their honesty and pure sense and this is the very unique gem that has faded away in the works of many masters and has given its place to technical tricks and manifestations free from a pure feeling. I want to say that beside brilliant and often sad and bitter portraits, some of portraits of Zabetian are technically deficient. Those portraits are like emotional literary pieces written hastily or in other words, they are like a meaningful manuscript written on a page with crossing. Such crossing may make it difficult to read the text clearly, but it does not hinder the joy of understanding the meaning. The serenity hidden behind the portraits originate from such defendable and honorable background. Farnaz Zabetian is so much interested in painting but she pays less attention to technical stages. However, whenever she paints a perfect portrait, she shows the signs of a creative but independent artist. Early judgment should be avoided in reviewing the works of this young artist. She spreads her unconscious on the canvas like a sleepless person and in doing such a difficult task, she does not think about the way of being seen or beautiful appearing. But the process of changes observed in her works in all these years reveals this point that the trace of a dark and sad wave gradually leaves her portraits and the signs of a powerful and lively wave show itself. Man’s face for Zabetian was like a zone in which psychology boils. But gradually we see in her portraits the radiation of thoughts, beauty and a significant silence.
Farnaz Zabetian in an interview with Hayat-e No
Small Frames for Great Women
(Sanam Movaddi)

“Recently, I pour a portion of my daily share for migratory birds/I like their getting far after feeding/This time a stranger bird took a piece of my hand with it/I think it was going to a far destination/very far”. When you read these lines, you might understand her better!
When I entered the gallery, I saw the large frames resting on the walls. But the women in the frames were not happy. I said that they were unhappy and of course their painters did not believe so. She said that they were her diary. She said that they were women whom she saw in the streets or in any other place of this city. She even paints her dreams. Anyway, in her 13-year work record (of course within the 13 years that she has painted seriously and has held several exhibitions, she has put woman in the top of her concerns.) You can simply see this look in her paintings, figurative works each saying something. Really, if you are to talk with a painter and university professor woman, the result will be a readable interview full of talks like her paintings. We set an appointment under the pretext of her holding of seventh individual exhibition. She received us in Mahrava gallery. It had passed 8 pm, but Zabetian had remained in the galley like the women in her tableaus. I had not gone there for judgment. I wanted her to tell us about her, her inside and her view.
- Why these women are so sad?
Sad? No, they are not sad.
- You want to say they are thinking?
I want to say everything is easy, calm and understandable provided that you have a painterly view to/of painting. There is no demand of a long narrative or story writing inside you and you expect the work an immediate effect but provided that the work has a durable effect on your mind. I think that colors, forms and composition of a work will provide a personal expression for the painter itself and finally will provide a special understanding for each viewer. When I work, I never think, that I should have reasons for my work because I believe that painting is a quite simple and current event. The point that what effects a painting has on the addressee from any class goes bank to two things. First, what ideology and viewpoint the painter has about his surrounding society or his life and what the viewer should look for in the works. Usually, the paintings I draw do not include any special person. I have said this in several interviews. I said that some people believe that all of these are one man, but I have thought and I have come to the belief that their only similarity is that I have created all of them. Sometimes some objections are seen in these images and sometimes talking, sometimes compassion, etc. But generally, during these 13 years that I have worked and have hold exhibitions, most of the subjects of my works were women and I have worked on a figurative basis.
- Of course as an artist you are not supposed to explain about your works because as soon as you finish a painting, it will not belong to you anymore, instead, it belongs to me as an addressee and this me, the addressee, who can interpret that in any way I want and I can my own perception of that. But sometimes there are some attractive things in the works of an artist. They may include joint works in one concept in the works of an artist. But I want to talk about your works, it is the same feeling created in me as soon as I arrived the gallery. The feeling that why all these women are sad and the lines of their faces and even the forms of their bodies all indicate a pain. As a female journalist, now I want to know that why a female painter who focuses on womanly subjects in her works draws women in such a way. Of course, by this question I do not mean explaining in detail about each work. I mean the reason of development of such view in Farnaz Zabetian as an artist, an artist that based on her words, she constantly analyzes the society and the women in that society with her curious look. Anyway, you find these women in your routine life?
I usually find my subjects in the society, ordinary women in the streets, buses, subway, hospitals or any other part of this city. What I always feel is an undecided situation of women with the society. It means that there is always a contradiction between her wishes and what exists in the society. Femininity has faded in our society, especially among the public class. Most of our people know nothing of the real meaning of femininity and if they think that they do, they usually have no correct understanding of it.
- However, your tableaus are full of femininity. Don’t you say that you find your subjects in the streets?
I do not agree with such an idea. I think that Iranian women are more feminine than any other woman in the world. Of course, this is my personal idea, a perception of what I have read, seen and touched. At the same time, although the rights of women in Iran are much more different than any other place, if you see that women are more active in social fields, it is because they feel that they must protect themselves and of course this has nothing to do with their femininity but it is related to their attitudes, feelings and souls.
- Tell me more about your view to woman.
I think that at the same time women are vulnerable creatures, they know well how to repair their damage part while the community takes it very difficult to them. In summary, women are complex creatures and this complexity has always been attractive to me. If you have noticed in my works, space is small for women because I believe that in fact, women’s capabilities are much more than those fields available to them. Women can prove themselves much more than this.
- What feedbacks have you received so far from your addresses concerning the nature of your work?
Naturally, it cannot be popular in expressive works in which an artist usually expresses his personal ideas and ideology (whether bitter or sweet). One day someone came to me for interview and said, “Don’t you think that in such a condition that people have so much difficulties, artists should make people happy?” I said to him, “Yes, there are so many artists in IRIB and there are also good caricaturists in newspapers and magazines that make people happy.” But I don’t think that all artists have the same duty to make the people happy. There should also be some artists to express their environmental situations. In my daily encounters I saw a girl who had a very good appearance. She was so sad because she was not fertile. She cried and said that her husband wanted to marry another woman. That night I came home and began a new work. I painted a pregnant woman with no child in her womb. It was a great sorrow and she thought that she could never get rid of that. She had creepy eyes and you could read in her eyes that she feared what to tell people. That tableau was among the tableaus that I never sold. I hanged it on the wall of my workshop because I love it so much. I do not sale the works I love them. I do not know if you paint or not. But sometimes creation of a work is so valuable and enjoyable to you that you never think to sell it or even to receive any confirmation for that. Since 1999 that I established the first exhibition until the present time, my works have found a good position among the addresses. Despite the idea of the person who said that artists should make people happy, I came to conclude that there are so many realist and truth-seeking people as well.
- A view to the process of your work indicates that you have continued your movement with the subject of woman for several years.
It may be due to several reasons. There are some artists that make you prepared to face a new movement whenever you enter their exhibitions and see their posters. They are the artists who work with fashion and modern taste. They use a part of creativity of their works towards change and establishment of a space in their art status. There are also other artists that maybe their movements are not so much hastily with so many changes, but in their works they have a procedure with partial changes that are performed slowly. However, we cannot deny the fact that neither of these two procedures reduces the effectiveness of the works created by such artists. I paint mainly because nothing else is so much attractive to me. I believe that artists (whether painters, authors, poets, etc.) attempt to assist people by their works. This assistance may be defined in different aspects, whether with respect to make people happy, to decorate, to change, to sympathize, etc.
- Your subjects are women. What have been the consequences of these subjects?
There have been so many consequences. My works cannot be displayed in the biennials or competitions. Even one time I held an exhibition in Niavaran Cultural center, but my works were never exhibited there. I have painted almost 1,000 woman portraits so far, but under such conditions, when a very good critic interviews with me and finally asks me to give him one of my works for printing, he cannot print a complete image of my work.
- Honestly, what made me come to this gallery to interview with you was the bravery in your works and the brochure of your exhibition.
Bravery? I don’t believe that this is bravery. I have only found the address to achieve my objective and I never liked to be among the prisoners that could walk under the sky by pledging a deed.
- You said that these women are from our own community. Do you have a close understanding of these people to paint them on your canvas?
Life is a way with a different form for everyone. You must go through that way. One day I was in the subway that I saw a little girl playing an accordion. I remembered the Slumdog Millionaire movie. Well, what is the first happening to that little girl? Such a little girl that has been stolen, sold, left on the way or anything else, will be abused. Naturally, she will be finished there and no soul will remain from her. And this is the body that should continue. All the way long my concern was that little girl. I wrote about her, designed her, but still have not dared to paint her image on the canvas. One of my concerns is those people whom are abused.
- Any probably you believe that women are the first people whom are oppressed. That is why you have chosen them as the subject in all your paintings?
Maybe if I saw a little boy in that situation it had also a bad effect on me, but when that little boy grows up, he...
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