Sahar Khalkhalian is an Iranian-born artist currently residing in Canada whose work explores powerful and traumatic themes including separation, isolation, as well as loss of humanity and identity.
“In my current series, the Naked Immigrants, I explore the loss of identity immigrants go through when they are forced to leave their homes and dive into the unknown. Immigrants go through such hardship and pain that it often leads them to become mere shells of humans experiencing a severe loss in identity. For example, immigrants lose their language—their mother language turns into something personal and to be hidden within the dark walls of their own home. Their voices are silenced, their identities are stripped, and they are forced to restart their lives completely naked. Immigration is a concept that is dearly personal to me as it is something I have been through throughout my life. The figures I have featured in these paintings are symbolic representations of this loss of identity. The sculpted blank faces on the canvas, the clinging of the figures to each other, and the covered-up mouths representing the forced silence.
“My Iranian culture is continuously at a tug of war between modernism and traditional values. Although I have traveled all around the world, I am still an Iranian woman in my roots. We are all stuck between traditional Persian values and our desire to achieve a more modern outlook and lifestyle, which is evident in all of my work.”
Image courtesy of the artist and the Agora Gallery