A trained calligrapher, Golnaz Fathi has turned the literary art-form on its head by skillfully transforming known language into form and composition. She first discovered calligraphy while studying graphic design at Tehran’s Azad University, which she later left to train for six years at the Calligraphy Association of Iran. Practicing the script for over seven hours a day eventually paid off – she was the first woman to win an award for Ketabat (a genre of calligraphy) – but she soon tired of the discipline’s rules and regulations. Hence, she created a new form of expression in her paintings; an imaginary language deeply rooted in Persian tradition while simultaneously hinting at a social renaissance.
Golnaz has exhibited in a number of international shows including: Frontiers Reimagined, Museo di Palazzo Grimani, Venice, Italy (2015); Approaches to Tradition, Neo-traditionalism in Contemporary Iranian Art, MOCA, Tehran, Iran (2014); Marked: Contemporary Takes on Mark-Making, Sundaram Tagore Gallery, New York and Honk Kong (2014), Falling Leaves, The Third Line, Dubai, UAE (2013); Controlled Chaos, The Third Line, Dubai, UAE (2010); Beyond Words, La Fontaine Centre of Contemporary Art, Bahrain (2007);
She was also part of 35 Years of Transvangarde: Contemporary Art from Around the Planet, October Gallery, London, UK (2014); Museum Malaysia, Islamic Arts Museums, Malaysia (2013); Qalam: The Art of Beautiful Writing, Birmingham Art Museum, UK (2013); The Other Half of Iran, SEM-ART Gallery, Monaco (2012); Written Images Contemporary Calligraphy from the Middle East, Sundaram Tagore Gallery, Hong Kong (2012); The Elephant in the Dark, Devi Art Foundation, New Delhi, India (2012).
Golnaz received the Young Global Leader 2011 award and her works are housed in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum, New York, Brighton & Hove Museum, England; Carnegie Mellon University, Doha, Qatar; Asian Civilization’s Museum, Singapore; The British Museum, London; Museum of Islamic Art, Malaysia; and Farjam Collection, Dubai.
She currently lives and works in Tehran, Iran.