Ario Mashayekhi, a Chicago-based artist, immigrated to the United States from Iran in 1978, only months before the revolution that overthrew Iran's monarchy and replaced it with an Islamic republic. Much of the art he created during the 1980s focused on the Iran-Iraq War. It illustrated his perspective on human conditions such as pain, sorrow, isolation, and perseverance. His current work addresses the universal effects of war on people in the regions involved, as well as the devastation experienced by victims of human rights violations and the impact of natural disasters worldwide. “War has been walking with humanity like a shadow since the beginning and may very well continue until the total destruction of humanity and nature, or hopefully until man comes to his senses,” Mashayekhi says.
Life at Walter Reed Medical Center, Wounded Returned Soldier on Wheelchair
10 x 8 in.
Pen and ink on Paper
This simple drawing captures a soldier in a wheelchair, sitting alone and staring into the space in front of him. Mashayekhi noticed the soldier while sketching wounded patients at WRMC in Washington, D.C. “Was he waiting for someone to visit or for his next medical test? Or was it simply a time to be left alone and reflect on the past or future? What was going through his mind, where had it taken him?” he asks.
Life at Walter Reed Medical Center, Returned Soldier and Daughter
10 x 8 in.
Pen and Ink and Watercolor on Paper
This sketch shows a soldier, who has lost a leg, playing with his daughter as he waits for surgery. “The object of play was the father’s wheelchair, and they played by pushing the chair back, to the right, and to the left. The father would then hold the back wheels, lean backward, and raise the front wheels up in the air, which amused the daughter. In that moment, the father was accepting the wheelchair as part of daily life. This piece is about that moment” Mashayekhi says.
60 x 56 in.
Acrylic on Canvas
War separates family members, and even if they are lucky to survive, most of their energy goes into simply trying to survive afterwards. This is the case for those who were at home being bombed with no means to escape, as well as the actual returned soldiers that are often physically and/or mentally impaired. They share a common condition, being chained to these circumstances, a day-to-day struggle that for many will last years and that some will bear until death.
48 x 36 in
Acrylic on Canvas
In June 2009, the world witnessed severe human rights violations by the government of Iran on its people, who poured into the streets in opposition to the overt election fraud and war by a government against its own people. Many have been killed, beaten, and arrested or have simply disappeared. Since the start of the Islamic Republic now 31 years ago, and through the rise and fall of subsequent social movements, Iranian women have been at the fore in demanding equality, justice, and freedom, having always been faced with the crudest responses such as name calling and arrest, torture, and for some loss of life. This painting is dedicated to the women of my country of birth for their struggles, for their resilience, for their hope of a free Iran, and like quite a few times before in her history, for embodying the full spectrum and richness of their land.