Nikoo Tarkhani, 27, is a painter who lives and works in Tehran. This piece is titled "This Is Not A Woman." She writes in gallery materials that women in her paintings "have no criteria of womanhood" because "they're bald and, although they're naked, the feminine organs do not exist." She says her works are influenced by Surrealism, Expressionism, and figurative styles, but they "still have the accent of contemporary art."
Ramin Haerizadeh, 35, is an internationally exhibited artist who lives and works in Dubai. This piece is from his "Men of Allah" series. The paintings refer to a traditional religious play popularized during Iran's Qajar dynasty (1794-1925) called Taaziye, in which both male and female roles are played by men. Haerizadeh uses Taaziye to play on questions of gender, identity, religion, and tradition.
Iranian Art: Golnar Tabibzadeh - Twenty-six-year-old Golnar Tabibzadeh is a painter who lives and works in Tehran whose works have been exhibited internationally. This piece is titled "Pieta."
Bita Ghezelayagh, 44, started working in the traditional Iranian craft of felt-making in 2003 and had her first solo exhibition at the Tehran's House of Artists in 2008. She has also been exhibited throughout Europe. In 1984, during the Iran-Iraq war, Ghezelayagh left for Paris to study architecture and returned to Tehran in 1994, where she worked in building restoration for the Association of Iranian Calligraphers in Tehran.
Mohamed Ehsai, 71, is a master calligrapher who lives and works in Iran. His works have been shown worldwide, and he is now the only artist-calligrapher still commissioned by private patrons from across the Arab world. He has many supporters in Iran, where he leads several art institutions and calligraphy studios.
This 2009 piece is titled "Our God Is Great," the work of a young artist who goes by the nickname of "Termeh." Iranian art critic Hamid Dabashi says the Green Movement -- an opposition movement that emerged after the country's disputed election last June -- "has been extremely conducive to her [Termeh's] creative imagination." Her work, he says, has become "definitive" to the movement.
Multimedia artist Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, 87, was born in Qazvin, Iran, and spent many years in America before returning to live and work in Tehran. She worked as a commercial artist and designer in New York for 10 years until she discovered the art of geometrical mirror mosaics during a 1957 visit to Iran. Her reputation grew in the 1970s, with major exhibitions in Paris and New York. She fled to New York after the Islamic revolution of 1979 and did not return to Iran until 2000. In recent years her work has been in great demand, with exhibitions and buyers' interest from around the world.
Mona Shomali, 31, was in her mother's womb when she fled Iran. Her mother, a member of Iran's persecuted minority Bah'ai faith, raised her daughter in Los Angleles -- home to the largest Iranian diaspora community. Her father, who taught Iranian Studies at Stanford University, raised his daughter with a keen awareness of her country's history and culture. This painting, titled "Persecution and Prayer," is from her "Naked Folklore" series.
Iranian Art: Golnar Tabibzadeh - Twenty-six-year-old Golnar Tabibzadeh is a painter who lives and works in Tehran whose works have been exhibited internationally. This piece is titled "Observation."
Photographer Shadi Ghadirian, 36, lives and works in Tehran. Her work has been exhibited in many places, including solo shows at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California (2008); Photography Festival of Istanbul, Turkey (2007); Gallery B21, Dubai (2007); Al Maamal Foundation, East Jerusalem, Palestine (2006); Villa Moda, Kuwait (2002); Silk Road Gallery, Tehran (2002); Golestan Gallery, Tehran (1999).