Shirin uses abstract expressionist paintings to express her emotions and explore her own artistic vocabulary

Shirin Tabeshfar Houston is a graduate of the Behzad School of Fine Arts in Tehran and moved to the United Kingdom at the age of 18. She studied graphic design in Bristol and later obtained her B.A. in graphic design at the Bath Academy of Art. Shirin established her career as a graphic designer and illustrator but her passion was always painting, a medium with which she more easily expresses her emotions. During her career as a designer she also had several painting exhibitions.


At The School of Fine Art of Behzad in Tehran, Shirin received formal training and technical knowledge ranging from the Persian miniature to western painting. Since then her work stylistically evolved, although remaining faithful to its core subject: still life.


Shirin’s paintings are organised around the balance of subtle colour fields, on a grey background or white with a translucent dullness. They are a “semblance” of everyday objects, reduced to ghostly forms, and far from being frozen, they seem to move on the canvas. In her paintings Shirin explores images of the past, visually collected shapes and patterns, images and forms, the structure of our memories. 


Sometimes the fine and liquid material of acrylic paint lets the naked canvas appear. Shirin attains a kind of abstraction both rigorous and poetic. From tableau to tableau we discover a change in the layout of her canvas: the drips of paint sometimes fill the whole space. Ones gaze is lost in a maze of lines, all in a continuous composition, without edges or centre. Yet the layout of the lines keeps the impression of the order and the controlled gesture of the artist.

Shirin's brushwork is expressive and evocative and the lively intricacy of line all contribute to her finished paintings. "I love to play with colour and composition to create a serene world where I can tell stories with images, combining elements of symbolism, spirituality and a sense of time passing."


In her latest compositions, Shirin asserts a certain nostalgia for Iranian art. She is inspired by the printed fabrics (Ghalamkar) of Isfahan, and creates canvases with subtle tones, punctuated by motifs and writing. Thus it pays homage to an age-old art: the tablecloths, curtains, cushions and bedspreads that once brightened Persian interiors.


"I use a variety of techniques including staining, layering and scraping the surface. The final composition evolves naturally, though often via a phase of chaos, and is typically very different to what I initially imagined."


Since 2011, Shirin has had a number of solo shows both in the UK and Europe and her work continues to be sought-after by her loyal followers and new collectors alike.


"From figurative to abstract, Shirin’s art manages to keep its innate freshness, in a world of silent poetry." Afsaneh H.S Djavadi