Shamsia Hassani : "Usually I am painting women in burqas in modernism shape on walls, I want to talk about their life, to find some way to remove them from darkness, to open their mind, to bring some positive changes, trying to remove all bad memories of war from everybody's mind with covering sad city's walls with happy colors."


Hassani uses street art to highlight the situation facing women in Afghanistan. She talks of wanting to paint the women “to take them out from their old clichéd form”.


“Women’s issues are always on my mind so I try and reflect their problems,” she said. “I think art can change society. I can’t do it on my own, but I want to bring change even I just changed people’s thoughts one per cent on something.”


The issue, she said, is not the burqa. “In Afghanistan women have much bigger problems: no equality, no education. We should focus on the big problems. The burqa is just a symbol.”


The artist also seeks to help the healing process of a city torn apart by conflict. “Literally, my graffiti paintings cover the destructive effects of war, derelict surfaces and bullet holes. People look at those buildings differently,” she said.


“Modern art is a new concept here. Afghans are against it. They say it’s what a Westerner does. I don’t see that, if the artist is Afghan and the concept is Afghan.”


Hassani graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts in Kabul University in 2009. A workshop four years ago introduced her to urban art and changed her life. “I’d never seen such a thing before. The word ‘graffiti’ is a new one in Afghanistan.


“I want to bring this art to my country and I want people to be more educated and open-minded about it.” 

Hassani has vowed to continue her street paintings and she is also setting up street art workshops to encourage others to get involved.