Art for Everyone: Interview with Iranian Artist Farzad Kohan

Lost Art original piece in Washington, DC--Photo: RJS

Recently we had the pleasure of meeting prominent (and tireless) Iranian-American artist, Farzad Kohan…And uncontrollably, he’s managed to turn us into a collector, curator, fan, and friend.

“Art is the purest vehicle of the human expression: When all else fails we communicate our emotions, our ideals, our hopes and dreams through our art.” Quips Kohan, whose ability to connect on an-almost spiritual level with his audience, still fascinates us.

The kind of artist who practically lives in his studio–dedicated to creating, perfecting, connecting, and somehow managing to spread love and thought with his work–Kohan’s self-taught style and use of colors and mediums feels ethereal and happy. (Maybe it’s Kohan’s infectious passion coming through his pieces.)

Lost Paintings, his most recent social experiment,  revolves around migration: “I have to go back to the fact that I create abstract art. Abstract art is a blending of reality and the things that we know into shapes that we recognize or sometimes don’t. My life has been a migration of blending many places.”

Art is for everyone, and not just for the elite,” says the outspoken artist who grew up “somewhere between Tehran, Sweden, and Los Angeles.”

Kohan–who is not related to Weeds creator Jenji Kohan or her brother and Will & Grace co-creator David Kohan for that matter–likes to consistently create and offers his audience plenty of variety in terms of media type…But alas, he does have his obsession: His signature and ever-evolving humanoid figures which are the focus of his Lost Paintings project.

“It’s something I’ve been working on for many years to develop–my figures have gone through lots of changes; they were short, round, colorful, tall, etc….”  Says the hardworking artist.

“I also paint and sculpt this figure. And for my Lost Paintings series, every single piece I sent out was unique, hand-made, signed, and numbered.”

Need we say more?

Enjoy our interview with the artist whose earthy application is bound to appeal to even the most critical of eyes.

PEM: What is Lost Paintings about?

FK: Lost Paintings is a project where people get to interact with art in a different way that has not been done before, it pushes many boundaries but more than anything else it changes the role of the viewer of art. Most of the time people are looking at art from a distance, they never touch it nor have a say on where it should be hung. This project allows the participants to be the curator, the photographer, the story teller, the collector, the one that gives it away and so on.

What is the biggest lesson you learned during this social experiment?

The most valuable lesson that I learned by doing this project was to learn to let go, learn not to hold on, I believe that art is for everyone and this project allowed me to exercise on this believe  and actually make it available for others that never can afford an original piece, they can be walking by one of these pieces randomly and all they need to do is to peel it off, that simple, they become collectors.

Will you revisit this project down the road, to reconnect to the work you’ve spread through the globe?

I have not decided on it yet as I am busy developing other projects and meanwhile working on my sculptures and paintings, only time will tell if I do it again.

How did you feel, when you saw your pieces being photographed in Iran, since you’ve haven’t been back for so long?

It was truly amazing, I do not know how to describe it because have not felt like that before, all I can say is that I was speechless, proud, excited and energized, what a feeling to see these small paintings traveling thousands of miles and finding a home in Iran. I was very happy.

How many of these figures do you have on your wall at home?

I have one of them. One of them was painted on both sides by mistake so I kept that one.

Do you prefer for your collectors to leave your work on display at sites or frame it and enjoy it at home?

I leave it totally up to them, they are the ones that are making those decisions and not me, I did send more than one to each participant so in case if they want one (and I know they did!) they could keep one for themselves and lose the other ones.

How would you describe your aesthetic?

People and their behaviors fascinate me. I observe relationships between friends, lovers, family and enemies. The way that people interact within their environment. Basically the human element within the boundaries of human behavior.

What drives you as an artist?

I am not a Doctor. I can’t save peoples lives through medicine. I’m not an attorney who can right the wrongs committed against humanity. However I am an artist who is driven by what I see in the world. I must create art. I create beauty, my art reflects truth, my art demands justice. I sculpt and paint because it is who I am.

How do you choose your subject(s)?

My subjects are an expression of my creativity. I sculpt and paint from the stories that I tell my daughter, from the memories of my youth to the things that I observe every day.

Where does the magic all happen?

I work in a modest studio where I paint and sculpt. It’s not glamorous. It’s not very big at all, but it is where I work.

What does your art say about the world?

My works is a reflection of our times in this planet, simple yet complicated, I create what I see around me happening, it doesn’t matter if it is through a monitor or an actual experience, so I record and deliver that in a visual language.

What inspires you and your work?

Inspiration is for amateurs, this is my job, this is what I do. This is who I am. I love being an artist, I love being creative but I create art so that I can eat, so that I can pay my bills. I make art because I have to. I didn’t choose to be an artist but I accepted it as my calling. Too many people forget that artists need to eat and pay the bills. I don’t rely on inspiration but instead I rely on talent, hard work and a drive to create.

What do you hope to accomplish with your art?

I have accomplished so many things with my art already, through different projects and working with random people and children, what I hope to accomplish later on? I do not know yet and I guess that is the reason I find my self in the studio working hard everyday making art….

*Click here to connect with Farzad Kohan on Facebook.

Written By: Sanaz Khalaj-Santos

Sanaz is Editor in Chief of Persianesque Magazine.

One Response to “Art for Everyone: Interview with Iranian Artist Farzad Kohan”

  1. siamak chizari says:

    fantastic loved the direct poignant ans…your attitude is wonderful,love the answer to the penultimate question,”inspiration is for amateurs i am an artist this is what i do” excellent.

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