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Fa Razavi


22 February- 11 March 2023

Fa Razavi paints throughout the night.
She paints until the sun rises.

Her body of work evolves from the very real dreams and nightmares in our world of hope and war.
Fa has listed her dreams to me:
The dream of equality,
the end of the patriarchy,
and of seeing people smile.

Dancing on a Knife’s Edge is Fa’s debut solo exhibition. Nationwide protests shook Iran in Autumn 2022. This revolution directly responded to the shocking death of 22 year old Mahsa Amini while in custody of the so-called‘ morality police’. This is the nightmare that Fa references. Months of revolution have ensued, and continue to this day.

Within the body of works, Fa presents ‘knife paintings’, alongside ethereal portraits. The hands that brandish these knives belong to the protesting women. They are holding a destiny that has been forced onto them. They do not want to clasp these knives, either in fear or defence. It hurts them too. It is chaos and war, with hands projecting from an amalgamation of striking patterns taken from Islamic art. These large scale paintings reflect and symbolise the turmoil of experience under this regime.

Through these works, Fa reflects on her memories of being born and living in Iran. The works explore the experiences of her mum, grandma and friends. “Living in Iran was a combination of pleasure and pain” she describes, “the pleasure was being around strong men and women – pain of living under the regime that has done nothing but destroy.”

The title of the works originates from the traditional, The Persian Knife Dance (Ragsheh Chagoo). This dance is common at weddings. During this good humoured dance, the wedded couple must retrieve a knife from their guests to be able to cut the cake. Beauty has turned into fear, a power struggle and defence. The beautifully sensitive portraits are those same brave women. These women can see, but cannot speak. They are faded through their forced repression. They demand our empathy and action.

All across the planet, where patriarchy surges, women have been oppressed. Within Fa Razavi’s portraits, faces aren’t clear. They are blurred, muddied, and devoid of senses other than sight. These women see all, but are unheard. Unknown. “The figures in the portraits are everyone. They are women. They are all of us.”

Palettes of red run throughout, synonymous with sacrifice, danger, but also courage, passion and love. Fa’s women are unfulfilled, though they don’t shy away from your sight. These women are waiting. They are preparing to win. “And they will”, Fa assured me, “together, we are poised for change, and stronger than at any other time.”

Fa is passionate that art is vital in similar times of conflict. It is a mirror reflecting the society around us, and, without reflection, we cannot change. “Imagine a house without a mirror”, she describes, “you would survive, but never truly know who you are. Many artists - many have risked their lives to create - I am inspired by their bravery.” She goes on, “The revolution is an art piece in itself - inspiring and brave and angry. So angry. It’s not only for Iran. Women Life Freedom”.

While her knife paintings are a story, a consistent battle between pain and freedom, her portraits are a moment – a glance.

This is a body of work of two parts; anonymous limbs, and anonymous eyes. However, there is hope.

When the war ends in Iran, Fa tells me how her portraits are going to begin smiling, and how the knives will drop from the canvases.

Wilder gallery, in collaboration with Mollie Barnes are pleased to present Dancing on a Knife’s Edge, the first of a series of three exhibitions that spotlight incredible emerging voices in Contemporary Art. This is the artist’s first solo and first exhibition with the gallery. Text by Mollie Barnes.

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Fa Razavi (b.1996, Bushehr, Iran) lives and works in London, UK. Razavi is a multi-disciplinary artist that works with film, performance and object-making as well as painting. Fa’s work explores ideas and experiences of displacement and memory. Razavi's work was recently shortlisted for the Freeloads Painting Prize 2022. Razavi recently graduated from Middlesex University, with a Fine Art BA (Hons). Previously, Razavi also studied Iranian Fashion and Clothes, and was a sculpture associate at Art University of Tehran.

Mollie Barnes is an independent Curator, whose exhibition-making, programming and research lives at the intersection of contemporary art, queer and feminist histories. She is dedicated to championing artists across all sectors. Her Curatorial practice has been praised internationally. Her work has been featured in Christie’s, Apollo Magazine, Art Normade, F Word Mag, Matrons & Mistresses, The Wick, Living Etc… Glass Magazine, The Courtauld and many more. In 2021 she curated and led programming for ‘YOLK!’, a digital showcase of the Taurisano Collection. Together, the 21 works explored the current ‘rediscovering’ of historically underrepresented artists to a global audience. In 2020, Mollie designed ‘The Fundamentals of Art Business’ with Christie’s Education for those without a traditional background, like herself.

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