While ornate and powerful in their own right, Samaneh Atef’s illustrations speak for much more than just themselves. Atef’s pen and ink drawings tell the story of womanhood from lifegiver to prisoner, from celebrated child-bearer and healer to scapegoat and everything in between. As a self-taught outsider artist, Atef creates work in the hopes that she may help to bring voice to those who still remain marginalized and voiceless in our world today. Replete with symbolism and rife with meaning, Atef’s drawings translate the universal stories of women worldwide, and some more personal stories from her own life and the women in her native country of Iran.
The eye frequents her images as do womb-type figures sprouting trees — or possibly veins, recalling the imagery cast on the placenta. Womanhood prevails as the overarching theme in her work and as Atef does not shy away from the gruesome realities of being female today (many of her pieces feature violence and bloodshed) she does so in a delicate and precise manner of her own making. Though she fashions her style on the heels of Frida Kahlo, Atef’s work is decidedly exceptional in presentation and imagination.
Atef lives and works in Southern France where she immigrated in February of 2020.