INTERVIEW WITH NURIEH MOZAFFARI
May 10, 2016
INTERVIEW WITH NURIEH MOZAFFARI
by art journalist and writer Lisa Pollman
You have been interested in the arts most of your life. After moving to Canada in 1998, you successfully received a diploma in Jewelry Design.
Yes. I have been interested in doing crafts and painting since childhood.
I started my academic training at age 18 and received both my Bachelor and Master’s degrees in painting in Iran. I then taught at an art university in Tehran for a couple of years. In 1998, I moved to Canada. I received my Diploma in Jewelry Art and Design in Vancouver.
I have exhibited my works internationally since 1984. I have had twenty solo exhibitions and more than 120 group exhibitions. I’ve participated in solo and group exhibitions in museums in Iran, Canada and France.
Do you still work with this medium?
Yes, I do still work on jewelry sometimes.
Did your artwork change after working with jewelry? How?
The full-time course that I participated in for two years definitely had some effect on me and my works. In particular, it allowed me to pursue my art three-dimensionally.
Regarding it changing my style of work, I would say anything a person does or sees affects his or her personality. A person’s point of view can change after any artistic or life experience.
As a visual artist, I express my feelings through the elements of design. Since I started to paint thirty-seven years ago, I have continued to change.
On your website, you have a quote from Matisse stating that “Creativity takes courage.” What about this particular quote (and artist) inspires you?
Regarding the quote of Matisse, I absolutely believe it! To create a true piece of art (beyond something that we’d consider a simple craft) always requires courage.
In your artist statement, it says that Iranian classical music and poetry inspires you. Can you please tell us some of your personal favourites and how they inspire your artwork?
I particularly like, and am inspired by, the Persian poets Hafez and Nezami. As I wrote in my artist’s statement: The undulating rhythm of the music or words imprint on my subconscious, leading me in many directions. I let my mind and body merge with the music and my spirit guides me to the places I need to go.
Do you include themes, colours and motifs from your cultural heritage in your work?
Of course, these are naturally included in my works. My work shows who I am and from which background. I write the word “Love” in Farsi (“Eshgh”) in my paintings. I am not a calligrapher, even though I have taken calligraphy courses. I use this word as a pattern and I always change the shapes. I don’t repaint miniature scenes but handprint the images and then paint on top of them in an abstract way. Through this technique of mixed-media, I combine past and present. I would say it is semi-abstract.
I make it a point to never direct the audience towards a particular conclusion about my work. I like them to do that on their own!
Do certain colours represent your moods? What emotions in particular drive your work?
I naturally express myself through my works. However, I never paint when I am in bad mood. I always start my work when I am in good mood therefore making a good and positive connection with the audience.
To date, I’ve worked on series about love, memory, architecture, music and emotions, atmosphere, Iranian women......... etc.
Please tell us about your “Unforgettable” exhibition and which well-known women from history were included your work.
Some of the paintings are dedicated to “anonymous” females, honouring the entirety of Iranian women. All girls grow into womanhood with a dream; some have the courage, some have luck, and some the opportunity to pursue their dreams.
In my Iranian women series, I have selected a few whom I have known either personally or been inspired by their achievements, personalities and influence in the arenas of art, music, literature and politics. Here are a few of my favourites below:
Ghamar Ol-Molok Vaziri, First legendary female singer
Farah Pahlavi, Former Queen of Iran
Forough Faroukhzad, First female modernist poet and film director
Ophelia Parto, First composer, pianist
Shahla Habibi, Painter and sculptor
Have you been back to visit Iran recently? If so, did it impact your work? How?
I travel to Iran regularly. I don’t believe, however, that I need to be physically present in the country for it to have an impact on my work. My mind and imagination can take me anywhere.
What are you working on at the moment?
Right now I am working on the “Reflection” series.
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