An Emerging Artist Journey
May 07, 2023

My first encounter with art goes back to my childhood in Iran. I remember

visiting the tomb of the famous Persian poet Attar of Nishapur during a road

trip with my parents when I was around 6 or 7 years old. At the entrance, there

was a statue of him that my mother looked at with deep admiration. Those days,

my mother used to tell me to go to the barber and keep my hair short and neat.

However, Attar's statue had long and messy hair. I asked my mother why his hair

was messy, and she replied that he did not have time because he had much more

important things to do. She also used to tell me the story of the famous

Iranian painter Kamal-ol-molk, who had been imprisoned by the king and painted

a whole to garden on the wall of his cell that was so realistic that the guards

thought he had escaped.

When I was 15 years old, my mother passed away in a car crash, and that

changed the course of my life permanently. I don't remember exactly what I was

thinking or feeling, but just six months after her death, I enrolled in a

filmmaking class for the summer. Being born and raised in Iran after the 1975

revolution, I had been living in an art and culture wasteland. Unless you were

from an artist family or somehow connected, most people, including us, had no

idea about contemporary art. Iran's glory in everything, including art, was

from the past. However, at that time, cinema was something popular and in front

of me. The plan was to fill my summer of 2002 with a fun activity, but that

one-month class turned into three years of after-hours classes, and eventually,

I decided to change my major from Math and Physics to Art and go to Art


As someone from a religious Iranian family living in a country that was the

sworn enemy of the USA, I was never familiar or interested in Hollywood or Western pop cinema. The very first film that hooked me and opened a door to a world of mystery and beauty was Blue by Krzysztof Kieślowski. I realized that there was a way to communicate strange and deep feelings with others or receive amusing feelings and ideas. Deciding to study cinema at the Art University of Tehran, I had to take a challenging entrance exam that included several subjects,

including art history. It was then that I was introduced to the art world and

all the ideas around it. I looked with the same admiration that my mother

looked at Attar to all the artists throughout art history.

What struck me most was painting. Each of Van Gogh's or René Magritte's

works had the same impact that Blue had on me when I was 15 years old, even

before I knew about their place in art history. I never thought I could be a

painter; I wanted to be a filmmaker, an artist filmmaker. In 2005, I didn't

even know about something called video art. It was not the main focus in the

Cinema and Theatre department at the time. However, I did my best and made a

couple of short films in my experimental taste that were not appreciated. At

the end of my studies, at the age of 22, and expected by my family to start a

career, I wasn't happy with Iran's social and economic circumstances. So, I

decided to immigrate, which is very common for young Iranians who can afford


During my research to find a course to study overseas because that was the

only way for me to obtain a visa to a developed country, I discovered a new

trend called digital media. At the Tehran Art University for the first half of

the program, we focused on analog cinematography techniques, but in the second

half that was discontinued and we were introduced to video cameras.  Becoming interested in the new tools I started learning new programs such as After Eeffects. This led me to explore the concept of painting with pixels, and ultimately, I decided to move to Australia to study digital media. I chose Australia because it was an immigrant-friendly country, and I could obtain permanent residency more easily.

However, I soon realized that the journey ahead of me would be difficult.

Immigration is one of the most challenging experiences an individual can face,

especially when there is no better option back home. In 2010, tensions between

Iran and the West escalated due to the Iranian regime's nuclear program, and

the value of the Iranian currency plummeted. My parents could not afford to

support me, so I had to work in low paid casual jobs and study simultaneously.

Unfortunately, I had no time, money, or community to pursue my artistic

visions. Although I landed an internship at the University of New South Wales

and became an educational video maker, I knew that this was not the path I

wanted for my life. After two years, I quit my job and returned to Iran to take

a step back and decide my next move.

During my year in Iran, I discovered my passion for creating art and

writing. I wrote a novel and started painting, beginning with a piece on an

abandoned cardboard door that I found on the street. I even could find a

publisher for my novel but it stuck in the Islamic Cutural Ministry and never

got published. Despite that I continued to write and paint. In my second year

in Iran, I worked as a freelance video maker to make ends meet while pursuing

my artistic endeavours. I wrote a criminal fiction novel and my paintings

exhibited in 3 group exhibitions.

In 2018, tensions between the Iranian regime and the USA worsened due to the

actions of Trump, and the economy in Iran declined. I also became tired of

living under a religious dictatorship that deprived me of my basic human

rights. I realized that the only way to earn money quickly was to return to

Australia, so I did. Since 2019, I had been working as a videographer in Australia and pursuing my passion for painting and writing whenever I had the chance. However, this year, I decided to quit my job to become a full-time artist. I realized that due to the limitations and fears that I faced throughout my life, I had never

fully pursued what I wanted and what I believe I am good at. At 36 years old, I

know that any path I take now will determine the second half of my life. Therefore,

I am determined to put my energy and mind into becoming the artist I know I can

be and not settle for half measures anymore.

I think the statue image is the one I saw a s a kid of Attar. The cover image is a painting by Kamal-ol-molk named Rammal which means fortune teller.