Soheila Sokhanvari is an Iranian-born, British-based artist whose work deals with contemporary politics with a focus on the pre-revolutionary Iran of 1979. Her miniature paintings employ the traditional technique of egg tempura on calf vellum with grinded colour pigments.
Rhapsody of Innocence (Portrait of Monir Vakili) 2022, depicts Monica Vakili who was born in 1923 in Tehran to a family of art and music enthusiasts. With their support and encouragement, she studied Opera abroad. She attended the Conservatoire Nationale de Music in Paris and later the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. She went on to establish the first Opera Company of Tehran as well as The Academy of Voice in 1975 and became a member of the board of directors of the International Shiraz Arts Festival that was the brainchild of the Empress Farah Pahlavi.
After the revolution in Iran, Monir was forced to flee and only managed to escape with the help of her friends. She tragically died in a car accident in Belgium in 1983. This painting was part of Soheila’s retrospective exhibition ‘Rebel, Rebel’ at the Barbican Centre in 2023.