Banafsheh Erfanian

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Banafsheh Erfanian is a Toronto-based multidisciplinary artist. She wears different hats
as an illustrator, painter, arts educator, and mentor. She has illustrated many books and
magazines for children and young adults and her work has been short-listed in several
illustration competitions and exhibited in numerous juried exhibitions such as in Iran,
Italy, US, Canada, Russia, China, Japan, and Serbia. She has had one illustration and
two painting solo exhibits in Toronto. She has won awards such as the RBC Arts
Access Awards, Canada, 2020, 2019, and 2017, The Award of Excellence of Golden
Pinwheel Young Illustrators Competition, China, 2016 and the Encouragement Prize of
the 15th Noma Concours for Picture Book Illustration, Japan, 2004. Banafsheh has
participated in jury panels such as the Toronto Art Council Newcomer & Refugees grant,
Scholastic arts & writing awards, New York, 2022, "Newstar Cup" Canada’s
International Children and Youth Creative Arts Exhibition, 2018 & 2019 and Tirgan
Painting Contest for Children, 2019.


I tell my stories through art using imagination as a tool of expression. I am inspired by narratives that convey mythical, poetical, and philosophical themes. In my multidisciplinary practice, I employ magical realism and surrealism to create a milieu that is tied to and stems from my cultural background as an Iranian-Canadian artist meaning I am into but not constrained to interpreting my Iranian heritage using satire and surrealism. As an illustrator especially for children, my approach is different. I create a positive, hopeful, and peaceful atmosphere for children in which they can indulge in playfulness and creativity.


Acrylics, oil pastels, and paper collage on illustration board (matted and framed).


The original artwork size is 5 x 9 inches.

One Thousand and One Nights is a Persian story about Shahryar; a king who is ruling in "India and China", once shocked to learn that his wife is unfaithful, so he has her killed. In his bitterness and grief, he decides that all women are the same. Shahryār begins to marry a succession of virgins only to execute each one the next morning before she has a chance to dishonor him. Eventually, the vizier, whose duty it is to provide them, cannot find any more virgins. Scheherazade (the vizier's daughter, offers herself as the next bride and her father reluctantly agrees. On the night of their marriage, Scheherazade begins to tell the king a tale but does not end it. The king, curious about how the story ends, is thus forced to postpone her execution to hear the conclusion. The next night, as soon as she finishes the tale, she begins (and only begins) a new one, and the king, eager to hear the conclusion of this tale, postpones her execution once again. This goes on for 1,001 nights.

The tales include historical tales, love stories, tragedies, comedies, poems, burlesques, and various forms of erotica. Numerous stories depict jinies, ghouls, apes, sorcerers, magicians, and legendary places, which are often intermingled with real people and geography, not always rationally.

Banafsheh Erfanian