Rokni Haerizadeh uses painting as a means to critique the hypocritical aspects of his culture. Haerizadeh’s Typical Iranian Wedding ironically describes the rigmarole of getting hitched, Persian style. Presented as a mammoth diptych, men and women are physically separated into two panels, which when coupled form a grand hall divided by a curtain. On the men’s side guests carouse with abandon amongst over-flowing buffet tables, live music, and lush flower decorations; while the ladies’ is a much more Spartan affair. Aside from the grotesquerie fashion show of primped up wives and girlfriends, there’s only one measly turkey and the lights are left on so as not encourage excessive party spirit. Haerizadeh rendersthese scenes with a satirist’s relish, considering every detail as a deliciously cruel and too accurate caricature.
Iranian funerals are elaborate affairs, often lasting several days and incorporating a multitude of ceremonies which extend from the highly staged to the deeply private. Haerizadeh’s Typical Iranian Funeral illustrates the contrast in these varied approaches to bereavement. In the canvas on the left, a meal is shared between the deceased close family and friends, a gathering of the nearest and dearest tellingly structured around divisive table arrangements. The civility of this custom is juxtaposed to an image of public ritual, with bodies on full display, grieved over by mourners-for-hire and strangers, as rites are proclaimed over graveside loudspeakers. In
observing the paradoxes of everyday life, Haerizadeh creates a provocative and sympathetic portrayal of a society that’s fundamentally flawed, and infinitely endearing and relatable.