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Crafting Narratives: Mokhtar Paki’s Artistic Odyssey in the Bay Area

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The gallery at STRUT (San Francisco AIDS Foundation) begins 2024 with the inspired works of Mokhtar Paki. The show, “Shy Boy and Other Nudes” depicts many aspects of queer love rather than focusing on sexual acts. Figures on the canvasses embrace tenderly or stare out thoughtfully from relaxed positions. They give the viewer the uncomfortable sense that they are invading on deeply private moments. “We all know that the religious patriarchy have always been afraid of picturing the queers love more than the queers sexual acts. In my painting, I try to capture the moments of distant passion, loneliness, longing, doubt, love and intimacy. Some human connection may end up in bed, some stay in the bar.” says Mokhtar.

“Beautiful Beasts”, 2016, mixed media and acrylic on canvas, 96 x54 inches by Mokhtar Paki.

Mokhtar lives and works in the Bay Area as an art teacher. He has published two books and is currently working on a third. He is an artist with a lot to say and many tools to do it with. The themes of immigration, queerness and mythology in his works are delicious food for thought. “Shy Boy and Other Nudes” will open on January 5th as part of the Castro Art Walk. It will be up all month. 

Learn More About Mokhtar Paki

What is your background in art?

I studied architecture, lithography and traditional Persian painting, especially Pardeh (oil painting of epic stories on a large loose canvas to be carried around and narrated for public). Literature is inseparable from my work. I’ve an MA in creative writing from SFSU, have published two novels and am trying to publish my graphic memoir “Dolls And Demons” in 2024.

How long have you been making art?

I have been making art as long as I remember, but it was in 1999 when professionally I started painting and stopped practicing architecture. Prior to that, I’d published my editorial illustrations for the Bay Area publications like SF weekly and Daily California. 

What themes does your art explore?

Queer Mythology and immigration. My last show at Strut, 2021, was “Beautiful Beasts, an exploration of queer gods and goddess of pre monotheism in Iran to address the root of the present queers’s resilience and the persisting homophobia. “Sinbad Voyage” is my recent mural depicting the plights and survival of the immigrants through their voyages.

“Sinbad Voyage”, a mural on Dwight at Sacramento, Berkeley, 28 x14 feet by Mokhtar Paki.

What brought you to San Francisco? 

Immigration. What kept me in San Francisco Bay Area was the diversity, LGBTQ+ and environmentally friendly communities. The art scene and the sensitivity of the area towards the human condition is absolutely unique.

Are there any SF artists that you think are great right now?

Lenore Chinn for her beautiful images of queer life, and Kim Anno for her striking painting on metal and her advocacy of environment and the indigenous culture.

What shows are coming up for you?

Right now “Shy Boy And Other Nudes” a meditation on queer longing, cruising and courtship at Strut. Also I will show my art at Firehouse, Berkeley in June. I’m considering my options for later shows while I’m trying to publish my graphic memoir and paint more murals.

Mokhtar Paki in front of “Gilgamesh and Enkidu”, 2021, acrylic on the Middle eastern fabric, 103 x 88 inches.

Learn More About Mokhtar Paki


IG: @mokhtarpaki

Mokhtar’s show, “Shy Boy and Other Nudes” will open on January 5th as part of the Castro Art Walk.

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Vita Hewitt

Vita Hewitt

Vita is a half Chinese-Malaysian, photograph taking, plant foraging, vegetable garden growing, astronaut impersonating, conceptual art creating Bay Area human. She loves exploring the intricacies of the Bay Area Art Scene.