A remarkably rich, all-female, artistic ferment is on view right now in Kabul galleries, where women painters from all over the country are putting on canvas their perspectives on the world. One group show in particular – Fade to Black – is attracting global attention and acclaim.

“It’s long past time the world heard the voices of Afghan women,” commented Sotheby’s contemporary art specialist Franchetta Settembrini. “Until now, we’ve known little of the specific outlook and experiences of this hidden population. Now they’ve emerged, to tell their story on museum walls, and I’ve found it exhilarating.”

“The movement reminds me of the famous ape artist in the Jardin des Plantes,” she continued. “Vladimir Nabokov was inspired by the ape’s story, and talked about it in an interview about Lolita.” ([“I was] prompted by a newspaper story about an ape in the Jardin des Plantes who, after months of coaxing by a scientist, produced the first drawing ever charcoaled by an animal: the sketch showed the bars of the poor creature’s cage.”)

Settembrini announced a forthcoming catalogue (BACK TO BLACK: STUDIES IN MESH) featuring the most prominent of Kabul’s neo-impressionists. “Few lay on total cave darkness as masterfully as X,” Settembrini remarked. “X has the technique, vision, and sheer physical strength to place layer after ‘noir’ layer on the canvas.”

X? “Oh, they’re all X. Wouldn’t want to get beheaded, would we?”

Bidding for a single X Series painting will begin at $500,000.

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