Home / Art

Artist Combines Graffiti and Poetry To Create Expressive Portraits Steeped in Symbolism

Mixed Media Art by Hera

“You Live and Learn,” acrylic paint, spray paint, charcoal on canvas, 35.4 x 23.6 inches

German-Pakistani artist Jasmin Siddiqui, aka Hera, is a multi-disciplinary creative who uses her varied expertise and translates it into expressive artwork. As a graffiti artist, illustrator, poet, and storyteller, Hera combines them all into portraiture of human figures enveloped by fantastical symbols as well as gestural brushstrokes and drips. Some figures don animal heads while others are visited by fairies, and each image features a few lines of text that correspond with the image.

The piece titled You Live and Learn encapsulates the imaginative and emotional tenor of Hera’s work. In it, a child is staring directly at the viewer—as if they are peering into the observer's soul. The kid wears a giant mouse atop their head while their finger is caught in a mousetrap. The text “I’m fine, really,” is scrawled onto the corner of the canvas, but it’s hard to believe that things are really okay. The symbolism of the mouse and the trap—a “problem” creature and the solution for getting rid of it—can’t help but be placed on the figure in the image.

Hera’s work is a reflection of herself. “My affiliation is always with those who create beauty in the darkest of places,” she explains, “Because the gutter feels closer to my creative home than the artist studio. I come from graffiti culture. I used to be the vulture, the raccoon, the street rat, that rummaged through leftover paint buckets left on the curbs of home renovations, treasuring other people’s trash.”

The mixed-media pieces were recently part of Hera We Go Again, Hera’s solo show at the Corey Helford Gallery in Los Angeles, California.

The artist known as Hera creates expressive mixed media works inspired by graffiti, illustration, and poetry.

Mixed Media Art by Hera

“Poetry Written in Fairy Language,” acrylic paint, spray paint, charcoal on canvas, 27.6 x 19.7 inches

Mixed Media Art by Hera

“An Ode to You,” acrylic paint, spray paint, charcoal on canvas, 47.2 x 15.75 inches | “Seen It All and Still Have Hope,” acrylic paint, spray paint, charcoal on canvas, 39.4 x 19.7 inches

Mixed Media Art by Hera

“Love Her but Leave Her Wild,” acrylic paint, spray paint, charcoal on canvas, 35.4 x 23.6 inches

Mixed Media Art by Hera

“There Is as Much to Learn as There Is to Teach,” acrylic paint, spraypaint, charcoal on canvas 39.4 x 31.5 inches

Mixed Media Art by Hera

“Taking a Break From Dancing to Their Tunes,” acrylic paint, spray paint, charcoal on canvas, 35.4 x 23.6 inches

Mixed Media Art by Hera

“Smart Rats Have a Thousand Lives,” acrylic paint, spray paint, charcoal on canvas, 39.4 x 19.7 inches

Mixed Media Art by Hera

“I Had This Guy,’ acrylic paint, spray paint, charcoal on canvas, 27.6 x 27.6 inches

Hera: Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Corey Helford Gallery.

Related Articles:

Colorful Figurative Paintings Depict Young Women Inhabiting Surreal Spaces

Artistic Duo Offers Social Commentary By Combining Raw Emotion with Pop Culture

Surreal Animal Paintings Reimagine Wildlife and Their Connection to Nature

Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
Become a
My Modern Met Member
As a member, you'll join us in our effort to support the arts.
Become a Member
Explore member benefits

Sponsored Content

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]