top of page

Country, Glass Slipper and Farideh Lashai

Afshan Shafi

This poem appears in my recent book ‘Quiet Women’ (Newline) and is an attempt to engage with the external metaphor of Iranian painter Farideh Lashai’s work, as well as her politics. The latter materialise in her work in a manner not limited to expressionist brushstrokes, but are instead presented to the viewer in a delicate synthesis; reconfiguring nature when under threat of bombardment, the pre-emptive nostalgia for homes soon to be pulverised and the nation as ‘icon’, as sacred as the cross or the kaaba .

An excerpt of the poem is below, along with the painting that inspired it.

Country, Glass Slipper

After Faridah Lashai’s painting, Zinc Borders

I did not receive,

What I was promised

My home disappeared

green dams (one fuse)

snow; intifada

a decoy’s hysteria

a woodfawn thorough pearl of fen

dialect of that augur;

cherry gargoyles


a feat, a masterclass

Zinc Borders by Farideh Lashai (2007), Oil and Graphite on Canvas (160x180cm); Public Collection, Abu Dhabi

Do you know how I spoke of you?

I spoke of the land not in morse, nor Tyrant’s speech

I spoke of the nation where the Gods are coloured glass

I spoke of the nation governed by diffusing aqua,

I spoke of the nation where miracle

Black gold, ilk of

mothering zero

mothering incalculable-

'Quiet Women' is available at Readings in Lahore (


Faridah Lashai: A true multi-disciplinary artist, Farideh Lashai produced work across painting, sculpture, installation and stop-motion animation in a career that spanned more than five decades.

Through brusque abstraction, as well as narrative compositions and lyrical forms, Lashai’s diverse output from the early 1960s into the 21st century showed a reverence for idyllic landscapes, while also reflecting her personal history and engaging with Iran’s political and social conditions. Indeed, she often argued that her works evolved from the interiority of her soul.

Lashai also studied German literature and worked as a writer and translator, particularly focusing on the work of German playwright Bertolt Brecht, activities that were often interconnected with her work as an artist.

Posthumous solo exhibitions of Lashai’s work include Towards the Ineffable: Farideh Lashai, Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art (2015), the Iranian Pavilion—La Biennale di Venezia 2015 and Only a Shadow, Davis Museum, Boston (2013). Her work has been widely exhibited in solo and group exhibitions, including Between the act/ And the motion/ Falls the Shadow, Saatchi Gallery, London (2012) and Islamic Art Now, LACMA, Los Angeles (2015). Her works can be found in collections including The British Museum, London, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, LACMA, Sharjah Art Foundation and Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art.

Born in 1944 in Rasht, Iran, she passed away in 2013 in Tehran.


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page