This painting is a tribute to Ghazal and all those who've faced similar struggles.
Months ago, among the countless stories of loss and struggle, and tales of bravery and sacrifice that have emerged since the tragic death of Mahsa Amini, one young woman's remarkable journey captured my attention and sparked a desire in me to capture it on canvas:
She was one of the dozens of Iranians who sustained severe eye trauma from metal pellets shot by security forces during nationwide protests in Iran.
Hundreds of Protesters in Iran were Blinded by Metal Pellets and Rubber Bullets during demonstrations in Iran[Read more here]
She is also a good writer, is a student of law, and hails from Iran’s southern city of Bandar Abbas. Once, she wrote on her Instagram page, "The last image my right eye recorded was the smiling face of a man while shooting at me."
The shooter didn't know I'm bulletproof, he didn't know that my soul and body are more than that," she wrote.
When she shared this picture on her IG, she informed her followers that her injured eye had been removed, and they were going to put a new artificial eye in its place. It was hard for her to believe that another object would replace her real eyes that were no longer there. However, she knew she would eventually get used to it because she was alive and had an unfinished story.
There was one powerful sentence she said that deeply moved me: "Because I haven't seen the day that I 'must' see yet. I know it's near... way too close...."
In her other post caption, she wrote:
"When the bullet hit my eye, I only repeated three sentences in pain:
"My mother was shot."
"I have not published my books yet."
"My eyes were very beautiful."
If someone doesn't know her story, they might think she's winking at something that can never overcome this powerful woman.
I painted her black hair as it is. The dominant colors in the painting are blue and yellow. Yellow, for me, symbolizes the light that reveals the truth, and she shines brightly under it. Blue, represents water, which continuously flows, cleansing away negativity. It signifies life, purity, and truth.
On one of her shoulders, I painted Damavand mountain, and on the right and left sides of Damavand, I depicted two cypress trees that hold great symbolic significance in Iran's culture. At the foot of Damavand, I painted the land of Anemone flowers. On her body, I painted lively-colored flowers such as red, purple, and green, along with two pomegranates.
On her left shoulder, I painted a bird, symbolizing "مرغ سحر" (morgh-e sahar) mentioned in a poem with the same name. It serves as a symbolic representation of the oppressed situation in Iran that has persisted for many years.
Ghazal's background, which covers one-third of the painting, is completely yellow. The source of this yellow is a small orange-colored ping pong-sized ball, and I also drew two similar oranges on the cheeks of Ghazal. The background of the sun is blue.
Now, let's move on to her face. As I mentioned earlier, her cheeks resemble two shiny orange balls, like the sun I illustrated above. Her eyes are just as depicted in her picture. I painted her skin color to resemble Iran. On her chin, it represents the Persian Gulf, and on her forehead, the Mazandaran Sea. Beside her right eye, which is closed, I painted the Urmia River, which is now in a very poor condition
The Painting's Symbolism: As an amateur artist who uses painting to express my emotions, I wanted to infuse the canvas with symbols that not only resonate with Ghazal but also pay homage to the resilience of our beloved Iran.
The Dance of Blue and Yellow: Picture the gentle flow of water washing away hardships, represented by the color blue. And the illuminating light of truth that guides Ghazal and our nation, symbolized by the color yellow. Together, they create a harmonious dance of hope and resilience.
Damavand Mountain: Proudly gracing Ghazal's shoulder, Damavand stands tall as a powerful symbol of strength and resilience. Just like Ghazal, it's a reminder that we can overcome any challenge and keep striving for a better future.
The Mighty Cypress Trees: Nestled beside Damavand, the majestic cypress trees symbolize everlasting life and the unbreakable bonds among Iranians. They represent Ghazal's unwavering spirit and the collective strength we find in our shared heritage.
Anemone Flowers: Blooming at the foot of Damavand, vibrant anemone flowers embody resilience in the face of adversity. Their lively colors remind us that even in the toughest times, beauty can thrive and inspire us to keep going.
Pomegranates and Lively Blooms: Ghazal's body is adorned with blooming flowers and radiant pomegranates, representing vitality, passion, and the unyielding nature of life itself. These colorful symbols reflect Ghazal's tenacity and the resilience of those who refuse to let their struggles define them.
The Morning Bird: Perched on Ghazal's left shoulder is a depiction of the symbolic "morning bird" from a powerful poem. It's a plea for freedom, justice, and a brighter future—a call that resonates deeply within Ghazal's courageous spirit.
Ghazal's Countenance: As I painted Ghazal's face, I couldn't help but be captivated by her unwavering strength and deep connection to Iran. Her cheeks, resembling vibrant oranges, radiate warmth and hope, just like the sun. Her skin, reflecting the beautiful hues of our country, celebrates our rich heritage. And on her chin, the Persian Gulf shimmers, embodying our collective identity. Nearby, the Urmia River serves as a powerful reminder of the ecological challenges we face, urging us to take action.
Conclusion: My friend, I hope this blog post has allowed you to get a glimpse into the personal journey that led me to capture Ghazal Ranjkesh's incredible story on canvas. It's a testament to her resilience, bravery, and the strength of the Iranian people. Let's cherish the efforts of Ghazal and all those who have faced similar struggles, elevating their stories and honoring their unwavering spirit. Together, we can ensure that their voices are heard and their stories resonate with the world.
On Ghazal's black hair, you'll find the enchanting presence of three fish gracefully swimming. Just as fish navigate through water, Ghazal has embarked on her own journey, navigating the challenges that have come her way. The fish represent her ability to adapt and find strength in the face of adversity. They embody her determination to keep moving forward, no matter the circumstances.Moreover, the fluidity of the movement of fish has led to their association with the concept of transformation and rebirth.
Meaning of Ghazal's name
"Ghazal" غزل (pronunciation of "gh" is close to "q") is a Persian name commonly given to girls. As a name, "Ghazal" is associated with girls who have beautiful eyes. It embodies the notion of captivating beauty, particularly in relation to the eyes.
In addition to being a name, "Ghazal" غزل is also a term used in Persian poetry. A ghazal is a form of poetry characterized by its lyrical nature and often explores themes of love, longing, and spirituality. Ghazals have been an integral part of Persian literature for centuries, with notable poets like Hafez and Rumi.
let us find strength in our resilience, hope in our shared experiences, and solace in the knowledge that brighter days will come.
Ghazal's journey for me is a reminder that we are capable of refusing adversity to define us.