Skip to main content

< back


About Farnaz Zabetian



Farnaz Zabetian is a contemporary painter known for her unique, dreamlike portraits of women of her own generation and her artistic explorations of concepts related to the inner and outer lives of these women. Born in Tehran, Iran, in 1976, she began painting and visual experimentation long before she graduated as a painting major from University of Art, Tehran. After her studies, she taught art in several colleges in Tehran and a few other close-by cities, while painting professionally. She stopped teaching after a few years to fully dedicate her time to her art practice. 

Poetry, colors, and women are the main themes of Zabetian’s work. She is invested in finding a shared space between poetry/words and form/colors. In the context of every day and the real, she breathes poetry and uses paint and colors to visualize this poetry and give birth to women belonging to a different world. With poetry the spark behind it all, birthing is the key process of her practice, each phase of her work coming to life from the previous.  

Her work involves conversations between the realities of our lives and poetry’s criticism of them; conversations that she brings to their conclusion aided by paint. She begins with a poetic force and combines reality with a criticism of that reality throughout her process. Her paintings do not include pre-conceived figures; she does not analyze and decide, then create. They are rather infinite roads with no set destinations. She just sets off, grabbing whatever she needs along the way as her provisions, arriving where she needs without really planning. 

Her earlier work was abstract, but later on, fish and naked women with long necks began to appear in her pieces. These works aim to express the inner lives of women, and the long necks seem to represent the long, hard way these women have to go before they can arrive at self-expression. Surrounded with inevitable, painful realities, Zabetian’s dead brides and women cover up their faces with colors and scents of beauty, poetry, and happiness, showing off their love for life and creation, regardless of all limitations and sufferings. 

Zabetian left Iran for Paris in 2012, but soon continued on to settle in the U.S. Despite plans to teach at UC Berkley, she once again dedicated her life solely to painting and poetry. She is an associate member of the Society of California Art Club, as well as an associate member of the Society of Iran’s Painters. In 2017, her work was showcased at San Francisco Art Fair; she had a solo exhibition in Peninsula Museum of Art in Burlingame, CA; and a documentary about her artistic practice was aired from BBC Persian’s Tamasha program. Her book of poetry, in Persian, was published by Butimar Press, Tehran, in 2017. Throughout the years, her work has been featured on several Iranian media, including a coverage on Iran’s Channel 4 in 1997. 

Zabetian currently lives and works in San Francisco Bay Area.


Artist Statement

The prevalent discourse of modern societies, with its focus on concepts such as evil, war, and destruction, pushes people further and further inside themselves, preoccupying them with mental and psychological struggles. The modern person is always trying to create a bubble around him, to isolate himself against the insecure world around and create a safe space. The result of this isolation, however, is nothing but personality disorders and psychological dreamscapes. The melancholic mood of the modern person comes from this putting a distance between the self and the society, and from retreating inside, which sparks internal mental battles. It is as if a school of beta fish, known for fighting, are eating the person’s mind in an eternal war, ruining everything. The beta fish in this painting are metaphors for this never-ending war zone in the modern person’s mind as it moves toward its collapse. The fish represent beautiful fighters that isolate the human soul in a bubble of fantastical thoughts and dreams, eating it away, and leading to its internal demise.



Taught art history, illustration and painting at several art universities in Tehran, Iran, 2005 – 2012.


MFA in Painting, Azad Art and Architecture, Tehran, Iran   
BFA in Painting, Azad Art and Architecture, Tehran, Iran     

Solo & Group Shows

Art Brief IV, ADVOCARTSY, San Francisco, 2018
Artbox.Project, New York, 2018
Sricoff Fine Art, New York, 2018
Artbox.Project, Switzerland, 2018
Madrigal, Sausalito, 2018
Madrigal, Sausalito, 2017
Peninsula Museum, Burlingame, CA, 2017
Live Worms Gallery San Francisco, CA, 2015
Mehrva Gallery Tehran, Iran, 2011
Vally Gallery Tehran, Iran 2010
Mehrva Gallery Tehran, Iran 2009
Vally Gallery Tehran, Iran 2008
Sondouzi Art Museum Tehran, Iran 2008
Vally Gallery Tehran, Iran 2007
Zangar Gallery Tehran, Iran 2006
Mehrva Gallery Tehran, Iran 2006
Vally Gallery Tehran, Iran 2005
Vally Gallery Tehran, Iran 2005
Vally Gallery Tehran, Iran 2004
Barg Gallery Tehran, Iran 2003
Pasargad Gallert Tehran, Iran 2010
Mehrva Gallery Tehran, Iran 2009
Saad Abaad Art Museum Tehran, Iran 2008
Niavaran Art Museum Tehran, Iran 2007
Saad Abaad Art Museum Tehran, Iran 2007
Pardis Mellat Gallery Tehran, Iran 2006
Vally Gallery Tehran, Iran 2006
Boom Rang Gallery Tehran, Iran 2005


Associate Member of Society of Iranian Painters, Tehran, Iran
Associate Member of Society of California Art Club, Los Angeles, CA


Interview With The BBC 2017
Interview With The Keyhan London 2017
Interview With The Etemad Newspaper 1387-2008
Interview With The Aftabe Emroz Newspaper 1378-2009
Interview With The shargh Newspaper 1386-2007
Interview With The Golestaneh Magazine 1387-2008
Interview With The  Herfe honarmand Magazine 1386-2007
Interview With The Hayate noo Newspaper  1388-2009
Interview With The Tehran Emroz Newspaper 1389-2010

Browse works by Iranian Contemporary Artists exhibited by ADVOCARTSY.

Email for inquiries related to our artists.

The SPACE by ADVOCARTSY. Contemporary Iranian Art Platform hosting an array of art events, projects, and exhibitions in downtown Los Angeles and beyond.

Visit our permanent gallery space, 924 S. San Pedro St. Los Angeles, CA, 90015.

Open Tuesday-Saturday, 12 – 5 pm, or by appointment.

Email for inquiries.

Follow us on instagram.

Sign up for our email list here.