Shirin Neshat

Shirin Neshat on why Frida Kahlo is one of her favourite artists

The US-Iranian artist tells The Art Newspaper which artists inspire her and why

On the heels of her largest ever retrospective, which has just closed at the Broad in Los Angeles, US-Iranian artist Shirin Neshat has been in London opening a solo show at Mayfair’s Goodman Gallery—the first exhibition of her work in the capital in 20 years. She is showing her latest work Land of Dreams, which uses video and photography to capture a portrait of contemporary American society in the age of Trump.

In this video snippet from her podcast interview with The Art Newspaper, Neshat talks about the artists who have inspired her, including Frida Kahlo. Read the full transcript for the video below.

The Art Newspaper Podcast is available every Friday on our website and all the usual places where you find podcasts including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iTunes, Soundcloud and TuneIn.

Shirin Neshat on why Frida Kahlo is one of her favourite artists

In the case of Frida Kahlo you cannot pull apart what happened to her in the course of her life—her illness, her accident, her relationship to Diego, her relation to Communism and the time that she lived in Mexico, her sexuality—from her paintings. Where I think in some cases of artists I think you can; you really don’t need to meet the artists and know a lot about their personal lives to understand the nature of their narratives or concepts.

I think in many ways I feel that way about myself. There’s no way you can really analyse and understand my work without some perspective of my own personal backgrounds: my separation from Iran; my life in exile; my anxieties as a human being that is often very political; me being a woman. And so I guess I am fascinated by artists who bring into their work so much of themselves. But unlike Frida, my work is not autobiographical; it is very personal.

Of course, I admire a lot of other artists: William Kentridge is on top of the list, Matthew Barney, Kara Walker, Marina Abramovic, Cindy Sherman. You can speak about every one of them for a long time, I think they are just amazing artists. Some of the artists I admire are not so well known. But I think my obsession tends to go to artists who have lived challenging lives.