Afarin Sajedi | Chef Offer | 2013 - 2014
Afarin Sajedi | Chef Offer | 2013 – 2014
“You will eat less than you desire and more than you deserve.” (from The Menu, 2022)
The works in Sajedi’s Chef Offer series have evocative if direct names (I prefer to say ‘names’ over artwork titles in deference to her figures, with their poise and power).
From left to right below : The Soldier (2013), Like A Queen (2013) and Like A King (2013). The header image – breaking this pattern – is simply Fork (2013). The latter seems less stoic and more a warning to the viewer meeting her gaze….
Even the superficially absurd head pieces that her women wear are less amusing than unsettling in their elaborate : the pale faces, flushes on the cheeks and uncanny nature of the women in Chef Offer inspire anxiety more than amusement…
I recently rewatched The Menu, a horror film about the pretentious restaurant ‘scene’ that is rife with dark humour. Many of the harsh if unflinching ideas in The Menu are present in another horror film that dryly mocks the art world : Velvet Buzzsaw (2019). With both of these films I have rarely laughed so hard – and appropriately – at horror. Both of these films came to mind in considering Sajedi’s Chef Offer series.
The women that Sajedi ‘offers’ us seem to have an affinity to the Menu character Elsa, whose inscrutable, amused hint of a smile portends nothing but appropriate suffering for the ‘diners.’ It’s Elsa’s words I opened this essay with : and the exchanges of dialogue in The Menu are a potential place to stand and consider Afarin Sajedi’s women in Chef Offer.
An example (and try to read this without picturing one of Sajedi’s women speaking as Chef Slowik, here):
Chef Slowik: So, the question is, do you wanna die with those who give, or with those who take?
Margot: But I die either way? It’s arbitrary.
Chef Slowik: No, it’s not arbitrary. Nothing in this kitchen is arbitrary. Please pick. These decisions are important, and, uh, our menu is strictly timed. In 15 minutes, I’ll take a break between courses, and that is how long you have to decide. It’s our side or theirs. In the meantime, please return to your seat. The next dish is exquisite.
Afarin Sajedi was born in 1979 in Shiraz and relocated to Tehran in Iran to study at Tehran Azad University where she earned a degree in graphic design. Afarin’s paintings are marked by a melding of technique and creativity, and often powerful in their presentation. Her subjects include theatrical characters, sometimes with overtly colourful, almost clownish faces, that are inspired by Japanese theater in tandem with symbols of western religious art that contrast and collide with the contemporary world. Afarin’s “characters are usually royal, proud, and silent with a deep look.” (from her site)
~ Bart Gazzola