Thursday, May 28, 2015


"I'm not a politician. I don't know how to solve the problems of the world. 
But as an artist, I have one duty: to ask questions." -Marjane Satrapi

Bestselling Artist/Illustrator and Filmmaker,
Author of Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood

Marjane Satrapi was born in in Rasht, Iran, on the edge of the Caspian Sea. She grew up in Tehran, where she studied at the Lycée Français, before leaving for Vienna and, later, Strasbourg to study Decorative Arts.

In 1997, Satrapi moved to Paris, where she met Christophe Blain, who brought her into l’Atelier des Vosges, home to many of France’s celebrated “new wave” of comic book artists. There, she regaled her fellow artists with amazing stories of her family—stories of dethroned emperors, suicidal uncles, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution—in short, the details of daily life in contemporary Iran. After listening to her stories and seeing her drawings, they kept asking why she was waiting to put her life in the pages of a comic book. 


Embroideries gathers together Marjane’s tough–talking grandmother, stoic mother, glamorous and eccentric aunt and their friends and neighbors for an afternoon of tea drinking and talking. Naturally, the subject turns to love, sex and the vagaries of men
paperback version

Chicken and Plums
Chicken with Plums centers on an Iranian musician who wills himself to die. Yet the story that then unfolds, mostly in flashback, could hardly be more vital and engaging.

A former concert violinist, protagonist Nasser Ali chooses to perish early in the movie, which then circles back to explain his despair. Not even the title dish, his favorite meal, can lure him from his self-made appointment with the angel of death.

The movie was adapted by Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud from Satrapi’s graphic novel. The same team brought Persepolis to the screen with animated renderings of Satrapi's drawings. For this tale, which is based on a Satrapi family legend yet has wider implications, the duo largely forgoes the graphic approach in favor of live action.

The Sigh
Satrapi's illustrated fairy tale. Rose is one of three daughters of a rich merchant who always brings gifts for his girls from the market. One day Rose asks for the seed of a blue bean, but he fails to find one for her. She lets out a sigh in resignation, and her sigh attracts the Sigh, a mysterious being that brings the seed she desired to the merchant. But every debt has to be paid, and every gift has a price, and the Sigh returns a year later to take the merchant's daughter to a secret and distant palace.

Monsters are Afraid of the Dark
One of several children's books
Every night as Marie climbed into bed, she got a visit from three monsters. They only came out in darkness, so she knew they must be afraid of the light. Marie took a huge pair of scissors, and cutting the moon out of the sky, hung it right in her bedroom. No darkness, no monsters!

Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Parannoud
Collaboration team on the film adaptations of Persepolis and Chicken with Plums

"...unfortunately you know, most of the people, they consider animation 
much like comedies, as a genre. 
It's not a genre. It's just a medium."  --Marjane Satrapi

Chicken with Plums
 The heartrending story of her great-uncle, a celebrated Iranian musician who gave up his life for music and love.

"I edit four times. Edit, then don't see the film for two weeks - and then edit it again. 
Every time you see something for a long time, you are convinced that it works, 
then you get some distance and look at it again and you realize, 'This is not working'." 
--Marjane Satrapi

Gang of Jotas
A luggage mix-up at the airport brings together the lives of two friends 
preparing for a badminton tournament with a woman on the run from a gang 
who killed her sister.

The Voices
coming soon-2014
A disturbed factory worker who hears advice from his pet dog and cat 
is implicated in the accidental death of his co-worker.

Marjane Satrapi had her first painting exhibition in January 2013 

at the Galerie Jerôme de Noirmont. (France)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Art Star: Laylah Ali

Depicting characters that negate both race and gender, Laylah Ali’s paintings and drawings often infer the moment before and after acts of violence. In her initial series, Greenheads, Ali references not only comic books and 60s animations but also images of historical unrest and uprisings. (from: Black-Visual-Archive)

Laylah is best known for her Greenheads series (1996-2005), made of more than sixty paintings and characters that are brown skinned, androgynous characters that she used for her dark subject matter.  She also has a fascination with weak superheroes, regimentation, alliance and betrayals, tense environments, and oddly dodgeball.   Laylah has even admitted that “I’m not sure that my personal rage or anger needs to resonate in the work.  It does fuel my need to make the work, to engage, to destroy, rebuild, keep at it.” She goes on saying that she’s trying to see what happens when that becomes part of the process, a meticulous one at that where strains and ideas and questions pop up about the world.  The anger is an important part of her process, but not necessarily the final goal.  She has to deal with the stress of working on the paintings, especially since she’s not too fond of using gouache, a technique using opaque pigments ground in water and thickened with a glue-like substance, since the slightest mistake immediately makes her start over. (from Cleveland State Art)

Ali creates images which are as simple as comic books and as complex and hieroglyphics. Their flat, cartoonish aesthetic sharply contrasts their aggressive and ambiguous subject matter, creating an ambiguously violent viewing experience. (from Huffington Post)

Ali approaches race in a rare and fascinating manner, by confronting it directly but avoiding the usual narratives. In the video below she ruminates about the possibility of racism stemming from the literal visual experience of seeing a darker face, a color that absorbs more light and looks more mysterious. She asks: could racism be attributed to bizarre visual phenomena? (from Huffington Post)

While Ali’s work has been described as ambiguous and confounding, she welcomes discussion about her art—even differences of opinion about it. “You don’t have to paint, or even like my style of painting, to have a conversation,” she says. “A mistake often made about artists is that we assume their style is their substance. And that’s not necessarily true.” (from BU Today)

Solid colors and everyday objects—sneakers, Band-aids, dodgeballs—appear frequently in Ali’s work and are often juxtaposed with themes of political resistance and betrayal. Her carefully plotted gouache on paper paintings often result in scenes saturated with tension. (from BU Today)


"I love how traditional portraiture is so restrictive and that it seems to rely on the discomfort of the sitter. I liked working within such restrictions and trying to elicit as much as possible."  
--Laylah Ali

Ali has created intimate drawings in ink on paper, inviting viewers to draw meaning from the figures she creates. They are beings that share some similarities with humans but whose clothing, facial expressions, postures and movements are confounding and disorienting. By playing with the figures’ hairstyle, body type, dress and physical limitations, she opens up a litany of questions into how all humans create and interpret identity.