«With graffiti I want to cover all the negative memories of war from the minds of people», she told to Steet Art Bio. A symbol of life, an impulse for the future. Words that clash with the tough reality, but she, Shamsia Hassani, does not intend to take a step back.
The world has recognized her as the first woman street artist in Afghanistan. A big burden and a brave responsibility, but she accepts the title and mission she wants to carry on. It is a ray of sunshine that wants to break the curtain of distrust; her own name means sun. And Kabul is his canvas where she engraves colorful messages of peace and hope for the whole community. And especially for women.
Shamsia was born in April 1988 in Tehran, Iran, where her parents, originally from Kandahar, Afghanistan, had found shelter after being out of the war. The girl immediately showed a tendency toward painting, but in Iran it was not possible to study art because it was forbidden to Afghan students. So in 2005 she moved to Kabul to pursue her graduate course at the University of the City. Then in 2010 she participated in a graffiti workshop with British artists and despite the difficulties in finding material and moving, the spark was launched.
She has wide shoulders and determination: when all the others gave up, she has taken cans, paint and paintbrushes, and she starts this adventure. Street art made by a woman in an extremely male-style society: the line that demarcates illegality and prejudices shrinking more and more. But through her work, Hassani hopes to present a different vision of Afghanistan, not monothematic and always associated with war and violence, but with beauty and art. And she does it through women:
«In my works there is a lot of movement – she told to Art Radar Journal- . I want to show that women are back in Afghan society with a new, stronger shape. She is not the woman who is home. She is a new woman. A woman full of energy wanting to start over. I paint her so that everyone can see in a different way».
Designated women testify to the evolution of their art within the complex Afghan universe: some wear burqa, they look like shimmering spirits that roam outside the rubble. They have the sharp edges to represent their strength, «however I wanted to show the secret under the burqa, that there is a real person, I wanted to remove the restrictions on women», the artist says, so other subjects wear the hijab to see the facial features and fairy-tale. Almost always have a musical instrument, a guitar or more often the piano: «It’s their voice», Shamsia says. They have a proud attitude, with eyes closed and dreamy, there is pride, tenderness, strength, vulnerability, sadness and hope. Oxymorons that make the idea of the complexity of an emotional iris that rejects some dominant Western visions, showing that there may also be freedom within the tradition.
For Shamsia, the problem that grieves women in Afghanistan is that they cannot be educated, must live at home, in a situation of social inferiority. A condition that inevitably influences her art: Hassani also teaches graffiti at the University of Kabul, the galleries are insufficient, but not the walls on which to perform works. But she has to confront against a sexist and distrustful society and for this reason is pursuing a project that calls “dreaming graffiti” which is a work done in the studio instead of the streets. With this technique, Hassani uses digital images such as his urban landscape painting on them to create a dummy and colorful reality within her mind.
Her works reveal the contradictions of a life that is further complicated by the war: death, bombs, homes falling, broken dreams that leave scars in the soul of people. Her own life is constantly in danger, but when she holds a spray can the whole world is muffled behind her and the magic begins.
Official Website of Shamsia Hassani 
Afghanistan’s first graffiti/street artist