Iranian-American, b. 1975
Lives and works in the Bay Area, California
Shiva Ahmadi’s practice borrows from the artistic traditions of Iran and the Middle East to critically examine global political tensions and social concerns. Having come of age in the tumultuous years following the Iranian Revolution and subsequent Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s, Ahmadi moved to the United States in 1998, and has been based in California since 2015.
Ahmadi works across a variety of media, including watercolor painting, sculpture, and video animation; consistent through her pieces are the ornate patterns and vibrant colors drawn from Persian, Indian and Middle Eastern art. In her carefully illustrated worlds, formal beauty complicates global legacies of violence and oppression. These playful fantasy realms are upon closer inspection macabre theaters of politics and war: watercolor paint bloodies the canvas, and sinister global machinations play out in abstracted landscapes populated by faceless figures and dominated by oil refineries and labyrinthine pipelines.
Shiva Ahmadi studied at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, MI; Wayne State University, Detroit, MI; and Azad University, Tehran, Iran. In addition to recent solo exhibitions at the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, CA (2017) and Asia Society Museum, New York, NY (2014), her work has been included in major group shows including Home Land Security, For-Site Foundation, San Francisco, CA (2016); Fireflies in the Night Take Wing, Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Athens, Greece; and Global/Local 1960-2015: Six Artists from Iran, Grey Art Gallery, New York University, NY (all 2016); Catastrophe and the Power of Art, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan (2018); and Revolution Generations, Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, Qatar. Her work is included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Asia Society Museum, New York, NY; Grey Art Gallery, New York University, NY; Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, CA; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; Detroit Institute of Arts, MI; DePaul Art Museum, Chicago, IL; Farjam Collection, Dubai, UAE; TDIC Corporate Collection, Abu Dhabi, UAE; and the private collection of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, among others.
In 2016, Ahmadi was awarded the ‘Anonymous Was A Woman’ Award and a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant. Shiva Ahmadi, a new monograph of her work, was published by Skira in Spring 2017. She is currently an Associate Professor of Art at University of California Davis.