Artist Focus: Nina Ghafari
Painter – IRAN
Nina Ghafari is young Persian artist based in Stavanger, Norway. She is a multi-disciplinarian working across genres but mainly specialises in painting.
Her paintings absorb energy from all sorts of pictorial and stylistic sources, channelling everything from The CoBrA group’s exploration of primitive art forms to the spontaneity of 1950’s New York figurative expressionism and onto contemporary Graffiti.
Ghafari’s unrestrained use of strong colors and violent brushstrokes to depict often distorted human figures belie a pure pleasure in painting, in the materials, forms and process of mark making. Her complete freedom in the use of color and form, can be viewed as a rejection of more “specialised” and “trained” forms of expression.
Her mixed media assemblages are created from scavenged detritus she finds around the city and can often include elements of corporate signage and currency reflective of her environment and interests. The work counters the prevailing mood of cool contemporary white cube art by creating what should rightly be regarded as a new movement in urban folk art that is not afraid to challenge the status quo.
Please talk about yourself and your interests of art to the world ?
I’m a Norwegian born Iranian visual artist and curator born in 1989 and based in Stavanger Norway. I have been working to develop an independent art scene here in Stavanger by curating and producing exhibitions and events but my principle activity is as a painter.
My art practice and productions cover numerous genres and include curation, production, fashion design, visual art and performance based work. In 2014 my production company NMNP (No money, No problem) staged the much praised multi-disciplinary art exhibition and “event” ” Right Time, Wrong City”, an event which brought a growing underground movement of dynamic young artists, thinkers and producers to the City’s attention. Right Time, Wrong City has since become regarded as a groundbreaking Exhibition and was recently awarded a grant by the city council’s culture department to create Part 2. NMNP is a focal point and incubator for Stavanger’s emerging artists.
As for my artwork, I am an aggressive expressionist. I paint freely, totally in the moment and without rules or pre-planning or sketches. The work is pure and of the moment, a reflection of what I see, feel, think and experience during that particular moment. In that moment, for me, art, the painting, is everything.
It’s a personal exorcism but also a way of communicating that moment of power to others. It’s also my way of meditating, of reflecting and personal growth.
Can you say something about the characters and creatures in your paintings?
My paintings are very much about identity and thoughts associated with it, be it personal, public or cultural. Most of us have multiple pages, who we are, who we strive to be, how we choose to appear to others in different social situations. Many of the motifs and characters represent the various aspects and stages we go through in pursuit of our own identity.
The motifs that appear in my paintings are about soul and psyche, thoughts and feelings. The thoughts and emotions inside one person, who lives their own singular life. My paintings and the characters are a kind of physical and tangible manifestation of the abstract that lives inside all of us, our inner life, a complex often violent and confusing mix of emotions that when painted can often offer a startling clarity.
Why Red, violence and so much excitement in your paintings ?
Red and black are two colors I have always been attracted to. For me, red is the strongest most powerful of colours. It symbolizes the most beautiful and precious of our emotions such as warmth and love and the heart whilst also symbolizing blood, violence & hatred. These are very human emotions that belong with the living. Red is an honest, passionate and powerful color. It always has an immediate effect and it never lies.
Black becomes a foundation which I build my paintings on. It is indefinable as it is not considered a color. These colours are the most basic to humans of all the colours, and all societies seem to recognize them and their symbolism. Studies have shown they are the earliest colours we recognize and respond to as infants.
How much impact does Asian/Persian culture and your current place that you live have on your paintings?
It affects my art greatly. The duality of being linked to two different cultures is always reflected in my art. How the two relate to each other. The warm and the cold, the hard and the soft, the shout and the whisper.
Persians have a strong pride in culture, humility, hospitality, family and loyalty. This is something I’ve always associate with Persian culture. Laughter and passion and living life.
On the other side, I experience Norwegian culture as polite, structured and far more reserved. It’s a Northern culture with a Northern climate and a very conservative way of life. You could say the two are almost opposites. It’s often frsutrating having a Persian temprement in this climate and of course the conflict shows or is something that I explore in my work.
Talk about your art programs and your upcoming exhibitions?
It’s a really exciting time at the moment, I’ve just had a solo show at Reedprojects Gallery, received funding from the culture department to develop and curate a new show of emerging artists, and I’m currently showing a large-scale installation alongside artists such as Banksy, Barry McGee and David Choe at the OutsidersIN exhibition here in Stavanger. I have new work included in a group show in Montreal Canada at COA gallery that opens on the 17th Sept and I’ve also been invited to work with a master printer in the UK who would like to produce and release a series of screen-prints and lithographs.
My ambition is of course to exhibit in Tehran, so if there are any curious galleries out there, get in touch !