Amid the Unfolding Afghan Nightmare Artist Shamsia Hassani Flows Through the Shackles

Published August 17th, 2021 - 06:37 GMT
Shamsia Hassani
Shamsia Hassani (Twitter)
Shamsia Hassani, Afghanistan's first female graffiti artist.
Great art capturing the moment, fears and dreams by graffiti artist Shamsia Hassani.

Afghan women artists over the last two decades were beginning to find compensation for all the opportunities of expression they lost during the Taliban’s rule between 1996 and 2001. Unfortunately, their dreams may be burned again.

With the return of the radical Islamist organization, there is fear the women stand to lose all that and more that they had so far reclaimed.

Shamsia Hassani, one of Afghanistan’s first female street artists, makes vibrant murals and paintings depicting women as strong, independent figures. 

Through her artworks, Shamsia portrays Afghan women in a male dominant society. She aims to destigmatize the misperceptions of Muslim women by illustrating that removing the headscarf is not the same as liberating women. 

"Art changes people's minds and people change the world."
Shamsia Hassani

She was born in April 1988 in Tehran, Iran. 

I have started to do art as everybody has started, when I was 3-4 or before that, which I can not remember, but as I mentioned before, every child like to do painting and drawing, but the important point is to stay an artist until future as well.

She received her bachelor’s degree in Arts in 2010 and master’s degree in Visual Arts in 2014 from Kabul University. She is a co-founder of Berang Art Organization, an artist-run group that promotes contemporary art and culture in Afghanistan through programs, workshops, seminars, and exhibitions. 


“Let us make peace. I want my country, my home back. I want peace and freedom for my people.”
Shamsia Hassani

Her art gives Afghan women a different face, a face with power, ambitions, and willingness to achieve goals. The woman character used in her artworks portrays a human being who is proud, loud, and can bring positive changes to people’s lives.

With bold lines and sharp angles and sealed lips or no visible mouths, her women often carry or play musical instruments, which provide them with a voice, a vehicle for self-expression. 

Her artworks have inspired thousands of women around the world and have given new hope to female Afghan artists in the country. She has motivated hundreds of Afghans to bring in their creativity through her graffiti festival, art classes, and exhibitions in different countries around the world.

Her last series of artworks are beautiful and confrontational at the same time. The way how she captures the current situation in Afghanistan does no need for words. They are paintings illustrating what so many Afghan women are feeling with the Taliban regaining control of all the country. Women are the last to conquer human rights and the first to lose them. 

The Taliban, during their rule over the country during the Afghan Civil War, notoriously blocked out all forms of public art, entertainment, and music. Women had to cover up and stay behind doors, within their religious and military diktats. 

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