Artist Sorour Abdollahi celebrates culture and identity

With the 2018 Eastside Culture Crawl fast approaching, artists across the city are preparing for this important annual event, including Iranian-born artist Sorour Abdollahi.

Abdollahi, an established artist back in Tehran, made the move from Iran to Vancouver 18 years ago. She quickly immersed herself in the local arts scene and has exhibited in numerous group and solo shows across the city.

“Art is something I have done since childhood,” says Abdollahi. “In 2000 we emigrated to Vancouver and I went to Emily Carr art school for two years. I then started to work. I had a gallery in Yaletown for almost eight years and then I decided I would like to be more involved in the artist community in East Van so in 2013 I joined the Culture Crawl.”

Adollahi enjoys being a part of the artist community of East Vancouver as she finds that she comes into contact with many people who understand art. She has also been inspired by the local artists she has met.

Merging landscapes

In the Midst of Fog, mixed media on panel.| Photo courtesy of Sorour Abdollahi.

My paintings are about architecture and landscape,” says Abdollahi. “Iran is a historic country and back in Tehran most of my paintings were about ancient culture. When I started painting in Vancouver I continued with that subject but now it is more like my memories. I am trying to show historic culture and environment in my paintings, combined with the culture and society of where I am now living.”

This year Abdollahi will be exhibiting a few large paintings on wood panel during the Culture Crawl. “My paintings explore the same subject matter but use different colours,” she explains. “I hope the audience can make a connection between themselves and the art. If they can stand in front of a painting and think about it then it is good art.”

Abdollahi’s art practice is hugely influenced by her move to Canada and the contrast between ancient Iran and the much younger country she now lives in. “I am living in a modern city. I see everything changing and shifting very fast, especially in Vancouver because of immigration and globalization. So my paintings have started to mix my past and present, like a merging of lives. I am trying to make a bridge between my past and my present and it is a process that constantly changes because the city is changing and the landscape is changing. So my work is [based on] modern abstract architecture with faded memories of old cities in the background,” she says.

To achieve her signature style, Abdollahi uses a variety of materials and processes including collage. Some of her mixed-media pieces incorporate oils, gesso, cloth and other fabrics. Others are created entirely with acrylic paint on either canvas or wood panel.

“Being an artist, and especially a female artist, I hope to show my culture and the previous society in which I lived through my art. I want to combine this with the culture and society that I live in right now,” she says.

Arts festival

Abdollahi is looking forward to the upcoming Culture Crawl and recognizes how significant the event is for the local arts scene. “The Culture Crawl is very important for Vancouver,” she explains. “I recognize that Vancouver is not a very arty city compared to Montreal or Toronto, so the Culture Crawl is good as it encourages people to come and see art… I think it’s a wonderful thing here in Vancouver.”

During the Culture Crawl Abdollahi will be welcoming the public into her studio.“It is easy to find me in the Mergatroid Building and on the Culture Crawl website,” she says.

The 2018 Eastside Culture Crawl takes place Nov 1518 at various locations. For more information, please visit