Soheila Esfahani grew up in Tehran, Iran, and moved to Canada in 1992. She received her Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Western Ontario and her BA in Fine Arts from the University of Waterloo. She is a recipient of grants from the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Region of Waterloo Arts Fund. As part of the SSHRCC grant, Esfahani participated in a research/creation group entitled Immersion Emergencies and Possible Worlds: Engaging Water as Culture and Resource through Contemporary Art. Esfahani’s work is represented in public and private collections including the Canada Council’s Art Bank. She was nominated for the Jameel Prize at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, UK in 2015.
Esfahani’s recent art practice navigates the terrains of cultural translation and explores the processes involved in cultural transfer and transformation. Her installations focus on the translation in its etymological meaning as the process of ‘carrying across’ or ‘bringing across’ and Homi Bhabha’s notion of the Third Space as a site for cultural translation.
Her paintings incorporate traditional Persian script within a modern composition. While the essence of the calligraphy predominates and reveals an Eastern origin in her work, forms, lines and texture attest to a Western abstract influence. In her work, the mystical concepts of transformations, spirituality, and alchemy manifest through the meaning of poems by Persian poet, Rumi.