Please share a bit about you and your artistic background.
I am an Iranian visual artist, raised and born in Tehran, currently based in London. Since childhood I always loved art and wanted to pursue a career in that. But in high school I followed friends and studied maths at high school until I finally couldn’t stand it and in the last year I changed my major to art and went back to follow what I love.
I have simultaneously pursued two masters in animation, one through a full scholarship in the UK and one in Iran, and developed my ink style in painting throughout the years. I love experimenting with different mediums and investigating the human’s emotions and feelings in my art. I would love my work to be able to evoke a feeling in the audience and connect to them to a deeper layer so they can resonate with them. In my ink paintings, I get inspiration from music, human emotions and my own experiences where I express myself by drawing figures and portraits through hatched black ink lines that are in juxtaposition of fluid colourful inks. I believe humans go through common experiences and art is the language we all understand. Currently I have made two video art that I am showcasing all around the world.
Can you tell me about your mental health?
The idea of mental health was always so interesting for me because everyone is dealing with it one way or another. I always feel like I’m walking on the edge of anxiety and depression and even though I have not been officially diagnosed with it and people normally see me as one of the happiest in the room, but I’ve been going through lots of mood swings and changes in life that made me struggle at some points in my life.
As an immigrant I had to work so hard to be where I am today and it is always a feeling of insecurity with me. Because politics, economics and even personal life and decisions you make can shape your life for better or worse and it is only you and yourself who can take control of your life and decide whether you wanna give up or continue your path despite all the challenges you are facing. Staying strong and fighting for dreams is not easy and it takes lots of courage, failing and rising again.
How is your work influenced or informed by mental health?
I paint feelings. That’s a universal language. Painting for me other than joy is a way to escape from reality and to express myself in the moments I am overwhelmed. It is when words are not good enough to justify how I feel.
ّI think every artist dips his/her brush into his/her soul. Whenever I feel overwhelmed I grab a pen or brush and start to paint or I start writing my thoughts down sometimes in my mother tongue Farsi and sometimes in English. That’s how I find some stability and clarity. Sometimes it doesn’t turn out as I wish but the fact that you can translate some unknown feelings into visuals that can be read by others is very interesting.
I’m very observant and caring and sometimes I bury other people’s pain inside of me to the point that it overwhelms me. With the world’s current situation and the amount of stress of everyday life I believe mental health is one of the most important things in our lives and we should be really aware of how to take care of it. I think I can be my worst enemy sometimes but the fact of digging deeper into yourself and trying to make peace with your demons in my belief is one of the hardest challenges in life. Afterall we are all humans and go through the same experiences. Being able to identify them and accept them is one of the very first steps. And next is trying to talk to others or seeking professional help if you need it. I feel very lucky to be able to express some of them through my art.
'You Are Valid'
Please talk through one of your pieces with us - perhaps outlining your artistic process and meaning/intention behind the work.
During the pandemic and all the drastic changes in the past few years, I started to value so many things in life more. But one of the hardest journeys was the journey within myself and starting to reevaluate my life and my goals and trying to understand who I am. I am taking it too hard on myself and unlike how kind I am with people, I am very unkind to myself most of the time. In a world that projects perfect images and defines certain rules, standards and definitions for things, to learn to accept things the way they are and my imperfections was a hard challenge.
I started to draw self portraits in different times and explore myself in that way by my different moods. Every portrait is so different from another but this one in particular is for the time I was going through some difficult times in life emotionally and I felt partly damaged and helpless. Knowing that I have to carry on no matter what and still keep an eye open although I am wounded inside is what I tried to portray in this self image of myself.
Can you tell me about some of the previous exhibitions you have been involved in?
I have recently created two video arts about “inner child” which I have exhibited in different festivals and exhibitions all around the world such as Iran, Spain, Greece, Portugal.
Currently I am exhibiting my work in 6 different places around the world. Mental Health group exhibition at Tebbs Contemporary Gallery and my video art is showcased in ARTSCLOUD in Seoul , ARTBOX Project in Zurich, two shows in USA, New Jersey and Louisiana, and soon in Traverse Festival in France.
Any lessons you have learned from your artistic journey and ongoing practice?
I think we are evolving both as humans and artists and you grow with your art and experiences that you gain through life. I would say always be open to the opportunities that arise and keep learning new things. Be true to yourself and express your true self in your art. If something comes from the heart people will also recognise that and that's how you can communicate with others. You don’t need to imitate others. Everyone has their own story and their own path in their lives.
See more of Arezou's work on instagram.
Listen to Arezou's podcast here.