Mahsa Merci is an artist originally from Tehran, Iran where she was born and raised. The versatility of her art led her to practice multiple mediums and techniques that include photography, videography, painting, drawing and even sculpting.

She pursued her studies in Fine Arts in Canada before continuing back in Tehran in Painting and Graphic Design. She had her first solo exhibition in 2019 in the Etemad Gallery of Tehran, did 14 selected group exhibitions, three private collections, and has been selected for 13 bibliographies and interviews.

Mirror Series by Mahsa Merci. Image courtesy of the artist.

Her work is her reaction to the repression she had to face back in Iran. It is the expression of the freedom of her being that has been prohibited for a long time.

In fact, not only does her work explore LGBTQ+ identities and their intersectionality with race and culture, but it also fiercely challenges the oppression of the Iranian system by looking at it right in the eye. She permits the existence of deviance by creating it and exhibiting it publicly.

Mirror Series by Mahsa Merci. Image courtesy of the artist.

The majority of her paintings present portraits of naturally looking and geometrically imperfect figures. They always have one or few individual elements that challenge the traditional meaning of gender identity. This can be conveyed by women with a beard or short hair, or a man wearing makeup or a dress.

Their eyes are often big, well drawn, with a beautiful shape and thick eyelashes which reminds the viewer of her Iranian identity. The latter is essential to understand Merci’s work and its context since it makes it revolutionary. These imposing eyes look right at the viewer, daring them for their simple existence.

Mirror Series by Mahsa Merci. Image courtesy of the artist.

In light of the most recent events currently happening in Iran, and particularly in memory of Mahsa Amini and the ongoing protests in the name of free womanhood that her tragic death provoked, Mahsa Merci’s work is an excellent example of art as a medium to fight for Gender Equality and Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions, two United Nations Sustainable Development Goals that are currently the main concerns amongst the Iraninan population.

Mahsa Merci is currently based in Toronto. You can follow her work on her Instagram account and on the Saatchi Art website.

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