What is your full name?
What is your nationality and where do you live?
I'm Iranian-American. I live in LA.
Do you have any pets? Any pets you dream of having?
I have a cat named Pishi and a bearded dragon named Papaya. I used to have a horse, I’d like to have one again some day.
How would you describe your aesthetic as an artist?
My art is emotional and ornamental. My paintings romanticize the cycles of life and death in the forms of flowers or fruits, decomposing or blooming. Sometimes I apply dried fruits and different organic materials on the canvas. I play with textures, finding catharsis in smearing thick strokes of oil sticks onto my canvases. Serpents, demons, angels, fruits and flowers are familiar subjects representing various anxieties and emotions. The symbols in my paintings have personal anecdotal significance, kind of like a hieroglyphic diary entry.
What did you draw or paint last?
I sketched out a new painting about seduction, obsession, and distraction, a satanic serpent. I'm not finished with him yet, though. I'm also working on a painting of a Venus intertwined in two healing snakes. I’m usually working on a potpourri of paintings at once, allowing them to breathe and for me to come back when I’m in the mood.
What inspires you?
When I’m working on a new painting, I surround myself with my diaries, sketches, books, and trinkets that betoken the distractions at the forefront of my mind. The pretence of fairytales, especially Disney, engendered a lot of my anxiety and romantic obsessions. I draw from personal rejections and seductions along with fairytales and myths to pervade my paintings with sentimentality. Universal motifs like snakes and spiders, games like chess and cards, flowers and fruits, real and mythological creatures are sensuous tools of indirect suggestion to express mystical ideas, emotions, and my state of mind. Lately I’ve been musing Shakespearean sonnets, occult iconography, illuminated manuscripts, and astrology.
What do you smell like?
I'm a scent junkie. I keep all kinds of perfumes, oils, candles, and incense around me to cultivate different feelings. I recently got this ancient preparation of aromatic vinegar called the Vinegar of Seven Thieves. According to the legend thieves used it to steal from those affected by the plague without becoming infected themselves. I just take a whiff of it when I get light-headed. I remember reading about fasting nuns in the late 19th century who would use it when they would feel faint. My somatic scent is a bouquet of Persian roses, gardenia, saffron, incense, night-blooming jasmines, and weed.
Images courtesy of LEILA RAHIMI
words ASHLEY MUNNS
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