Shamsia Hassani is a graffiti artist and muralist who was born in 1988 to Afghan parents in Tehran, Iran. Shamsia has experimented with many techniques in painting and created Afghanistan’s first 3D painting in 2014. She has been invited to different countries (including Italy, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Turkey, India, Iran, Vietnam, Canada, Australia, and the United States) to display her graffiti (mural art) at exhibitions, workshops, and seminars. She was named one of Foreign Policy’s 100 global thinkers in 2014.


“My paintings have a character – just like characters that play roles in films, my paintings’ character also plays different roles. 

This character plays the role of a human being, but since I am a woman, I can understand women better, and also since women have more limits (restrictions) than men in our society, I chose my character to be a woman. 

A woman with shut eyes and no mouth, with a deformed musical instrument which gives her power and confidence to talk and play her voice powerfully.

Her shut eyes believe that there is nothing good to see – she wishes to ignore everything, to feel less sorrow. 

My artworks are more focused on individuals and social issues, but at times they get political. 


The character in my paintings plays different roles: sometimes a combatant, while other times she is a refugee with no future. At times she searches for peace and sometimes she is in the role of someone without an identity. Sometimes she is lost in her dreams and at times she is lost in pain and sorrow; she struggles with the past and future, and then she is a patriot who loves her homeland and fights hopelessness. 


I feel that my artworks are visual alphabets that connect with people through their mind’s visual alphabets.”

— Shamsia Hassani