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Private Quarter (Midnight-Midday) (2021)

Maryam Hoseini

York Art Gallery

© Maryam Hoseini. Photo credit: Dario Lasagni





Acrylic, Ink, Pencil, Panel


216 x 216 cm


Presented by the Contemporary Art Society through Valeria Napoleone XX CAS, 2022/23

Ownership history:

Purchased from Deborah Schamoni, Munich by the Contemporary Art Society through Valeria Napoleone XX Contemporary Art Society (VNXX CAS), March 2023; presented to York Art Gallery, 2022/23
Iranian artist Maryam Hoseini’s work Private Quarter (Midnight-Midday) has been acquired for York Art Gallery through the Valeria Napoleone XX Contemporary Art Society award, which supports the acquisition of significant works by a living woman artist for a museum collection every year. Through her practice, which she sees as an extension of the medium of painting, Hoseini investigates the political, social and personal conditions of identity and gender. Hoseini returns to drawing throughout the process of making a work, often adding detail in pencil to her flat painted surfaces. She describes the process of making as a battle, as she is constantly physically turning and grappling with the panels, incising and reworking as she goes. The fractured spaces and fragmented bodies within her work reflect her own personal experiences as an immigrant and as a person who is effectively exiled from her home country of Iran. These figures express a feeling of anxiety, but they are also powerful and certain
of their place in the world.

Private Quarter (Midnight-Midday) takes inspiration from the 'andaruni', a location in a traditional Persian household where women are free to relax and socialise together without adhering to specific dress codes, including the wearing of the hijab. In doing so, the works reflect on the relationship between perspective, power and desire. The aperture in the centre of the work references architectural structures such as vertical openings in medieval castles, peepholes or prison bars, presenting questions around our relationship with the figures in the painting and blurring the lines between captive and voyeur. This relates to Hoseini’s consistent fascination with ‘in-between spaces’, which she believes provide an openness for bodies to move fluidly between public and private, painting and drawing.

Since 2012, York Art Gallery has pursued a unique collecting strand inspired by York-born painter William Etty (1787–1849) and his innovative exploration of the nude. This has resulted in an ever-growing group of modern and contemporary works that respond to the theme of the body. One of the underlying ambitions has been to challenge the often male-centred perspective of the subject. In doing this, it is essential to engage in current politics around bodily autonomy at a time when global
attitudes towards the rights of women and gender-diverse people are regressing rather than improving. Maryam Hoseini depicts bodies without heads in order to reflect the politics of identity. This is pertinent given the current situation in Iran, where protests defending the rights of women and girls are resulting in imprisonment, violence and death. Private Quarter (Midnight-Midday) offers a necessary antidote to the conflict in Hoseini’s home country.

All rights reserved. Any further use will need to be cleared with the rights holder. Permission granted to reproduce for personal and educational use only. Commercial copying, hiring, lending is prohibited. The collection that owns this artwork may have more information on their own website about permitted uses and image licensing options.

For further information, please consult our section of our copyright policy.

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