Orkideh Torabi
b. 1979, Tehran, Iran
Live and works in Chicago, IL

Orkideh Torabi imagines herself as a director who, through painting, resituates the power dynamics of patriarchal society in her native Iran. Rendered with simple button-like eyes, injured or missing noses, unnatural skin hues, and tacked-on mustaches, her unabashedly humorous paintings imbue the protagonists with an emasculated and clown-like state of being. She juxtaposes her cartoonish images of contemporary against vivid patterns that are influenced by Persian miniatures, small yet highly detailed illustrations that have been an integral part of Iranian culture since the 13th century. In doing so, Torabi makes explicit that the past and present become interwoven. Using fabric dye on cotton fabric through an idiosyncratic transfer process that generates saturated surfaces, Torabi’s paintings have a batik or watercolor-like fluidity in which her men revel. Titles like “Which One Is My Wife” and “I’ll Catch You,” update the timeless popular image of “the dirty old man” through contemporary political satire.

Recent press notices:

“At Horton Gallery/Western Exhibitions chez @newartdealers the Iranian artist Orkideh Torabi works in fabric dye on cotton fabric and likes to hang her work on patterned walls. She got her MFA at the SAIC and lives and works in Chicago. Her work blends Persian painting with Hairy Who’s like Nutt and Nilsson, fomenting optimism for the continuation of the reciprocal revitalizations of cultures. They simply won’t be kept apart.” – Roberta Smith, New York Times

“The most eye-catching painting display is in the shared booth of Horton Gallery and Western Exhibitions, with its ornate orange wallpaper pattern, which serves as a popping backdrop for Orkideh Torabi’s playful and attractive portraits.” – Benjamin Sutton, Hyperallergic

Orkideh Torabi received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2016, and she received her MA and BA from The University of Art in Tehran. Torabi’s solo and two-person shows include Yes, Please & Thank You in Los Angeles, Western Exhibitions and Horton Gallery in New York City. Group shows include Andrew Rafacz Gallery and the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago. She was selected for the 2017 Midwest issue of New American Paintings and has work in the Microsoft Art Collection in Redmond, WA. Torabi lives and works in Chicago. She is represented by Western Exhibitions, Chicago and Horton Gallery in Dallas.