Emotional Close-ups with Afarin Sajedi
Written by: Anthony Hagan All Images courtesy of Afarin Sajedi

Afarin Sajedi is an Iranian artist that creates soul baring close-ups that make you feel like your spirit has just been scolded.  Afarin is not trying to be a feminist hero or a champion for the Third World.  She is just trying to scope, capture and give a glimpse of the hidden and very often unseen turmoil buried within all of us.  Our interview with Afarin revealed to us that there is sometimes more strength in silence and many artists are on a quiet quest to make the world a better place by slowly hammering away at misconceptions and so-called values that actually are hindrances.  It maybe takes an individual as beautiful as Afarin producing equally beautiful and daring images portraying tumult to break the cycle of ignorance.

“The worst criticism comes from people who interpret my work in terms of issues of women …”

Please tell us a little about yourself – your childhood, siblings, where you grew up, what you liked as a child, strange thoughts as a child/now, unique attributes, where you live now, etc.?

Now it’s almost 15 years that I’ve been living in Tehran. I have a BA in Graphic Design. I have done graphic design, animation, illustration for children books, and even film directing and acting. However, I’ve been painting fulltime since 2009.

What does your art mean to you?

Realizing and depicting the universe I’m trusted with creating.

How do you describe your form of art?

This question has many angles to it. When I paint portraits and I’m working on the details, I work in a manner very similar to close-ups in the cinema where the audience can learn about inner states and emotions of the character in that specific moment by getting closer to him/her. Generally speaking, I can’t claim to be an illustrator of the “inside”. Sometimes the inside is kept hidden by my subject’s silence, the only way to grasp it is through their gazes and the surrounding symbols; at other times, the inside is so highlighted that it strips them of all attributes of the human figure, transforming them to new creatures.

Women play an integral part of all your work – Is this done on purpose? What tools do you use for the creation of your work and how did you create your personal art style?

Most of work depicts women, but not all of my work. I think it’s a result of my more developed skill in depicting women and, naturally, sympathizing with them. Of course, the complexities of the female mind are more aligned to my ideas.

Regarding my technique, I mostly use acrylic or oil paint on canvas. My exhibition drawings are made with ballpoint pen. I make simple pencil etudes in the sketchbook that I take everywhere with me. Though sometimes the large-scale work shares its exact idea with my sketchbook version, it usually changes when it goes unto the canvas.

I have photographed a few people for my work, but I can’t confine myself to one-to-one correspondence. I can’t achieve the ideal look without altering the proportions.

Do you consider yourself a feminist? If yes, how do you think you are moving women forward?

Although I see changes in attitudes toward women, I don’t consider myself a feminist and I don’t consider my work defending feminist ideas. What attracts me is human concerns and questions, not any specific geographic location or gender.

What is the worst critique you have ever received about your work? What is the best compliment that you have received about your work?

The worst criticism comes from people who interpret my work in terms of issues of women or of Third World countries or such matters. I think the internet and the flow of information it generates should change the views that most people in the West hold about Eastern countries like Iran (that these countries are filled with oppression and antiquity).

And the best compliments are those that are expressed by people who get feelings from my work that they can’t express. That’s when I know I have succeeded in what I want to do.

Which artist/s do you look up to the most?

Leonardo. Mysteriousness.  His lighting and godlike executions enchant me every time.

Since Style.No.Chaser is a men’s lifestyle magazine, what attributes/items/clothing /etc. do you think define a man?

Masculine traits for me are power and stability. So any color and style that enforces those qualities can make a man attractive to me. I’m more interested in designers whose work mixes classic tastes with the more modern ones.

What is your personal life philosophy?

Life is beyond what can be seen with the eyes (naked or not) and our duty is to depict the unseen worlds.

Who dead or alive, celebrity or not, artist or not, would you like to go on a two week road trip with and why?

Ha-ha. Difficult question…I’ll choose a filmmaker for I love cinema. It would be Lars von Trier. I like his courage, creativity and mindset. I always think that if I was a filmmaker, I’d be like him (I can chat with him during the trip to make sure of that)

How can people learn more about your current and upcoming works?

For direct contact/updates, you can view my website, Facebook and Instagram. I also work with Dorothy Circus Gallery in Italy (Rome ) and Etemad Gallery in Iran (Tehran )

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