Ardeshir Tabrizi

Tehran, Iran. 1981

Tabrizi is an interdisciplinary artist working with materials including fabric, thread and paint. His current body of work attempts to better understand time and history, and his place within it.


History has fascinated him since I was a child. It is something personal, yet shared, and like a compass, it provides context. It has helped him place himself amongst generations of people and events that have occurred prior to his existence and through its lens, he can better recognize who he is. He often thinks about how he might otherwise speak, think, act, or live if he had a different history. That more or less captures the idea his work visually endeavors towards: that we are all amalgams of human experiences across time.


His embroidered works are research-based and intuition-heavy. He utilizes cultural data from ancient icons, artifacts, miniatures, and incorporates personal and familial imagery. Throughout the process, Tabrizi allows his mind to play; to imagine what the outcome will be. He then transfers his vision into Photoshop and from there he can intentionally manipulate the fuller picture and produce digital files for the background embroidery. Those files are then used to create outlines for the overlay. Once the background embroidery is complete, he embroiders everything by hand; much like Persian Suzandozi (needlework). He landed on these methods over time, through intuition, study, and trial and error. The embroidered works depend on modern digital tools and techniques, along with culturally traditional ones. This merging is something he tries to lean into, whether he’s merging different cultures and peoples, or traditions and techniques.


The artist includes his family in my paintings to pull in an extension of himself that simultaneously invokes other aspects of place and time. Family photos help him scale up his conversation around history and allow for other considerations to be brought to the table. In this way, he wants his family’s presence to express human interconnectedness. He wants it to show that our influences are not geographically bound or located in one tradition. His family could be your family, another person’s family, or simply a representation of family. When he merges these family photos with other elements–of imagery, patterns, and iconography not only from Iran, but the whole of other empires, countries, and cultures– he can slowly expand what defines people, objects, place and more. As humans, all of human history informs who we are, even if we are born to or from one nation. Recognizing that is important to Tabrizi.


For his most current work, he has greatly expanded his research to include more references, to see history from an even more macro perspective. He is further exploring the idea that it is never just one country informing itself: it is everything informing everything.


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