Artist Studio

IWD Melbourne: Talking Breaking Rules with Sara Sohrabian

Sara Sohrabian talks to our Australian Fair Director about finding inspiration in Persian poetry and using her past to shape her present.

This interview is part of our global International Women’s Day campaign where we are talking to 6 great female artists who will each be presenting their work at one of our Spring fairs; London, Sydney, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Melbourne and Chicago.

Tell me a little bit about your practice.

I am a visual artist. I do painting, drawing, photography and printmaking. Depends on the idea comes across my mind I use different methods and techniques to bring the imagination into the reality. I am also very interested in the figurative art and nude.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

I draw my inspiration from myself, loves, memories, identity and emotion. Without exception my artwork is deeply affected by ideas and emotions that result from experiences of my own cultural heritage, as well as those encountered in my new environment.

What inspired you to create your collection of works Rupture/ Rapture?

My series of Rupture / Rapture has been inspired by my experience as an immigrant in Australia.

Art can be shaped by individual identity that is fashioned by our past and the relationship we have with our own culture. For migrants, who have lost a direct connection to their culture and to the ties of their past, identity shifts between a duality. Where, in embracing the many aspects of their new culture, a feeling of isolation can ensue. This can be enhanced in migrants who have come from societies with a previous history of dramatic cultural upheaval, such as the fractures found the ancient Persian culture in its contemporary context.

In an attempt to preserve their identity, migrants often look to the past and to entrenched traditions. In my situation, as an artist trying to build a new life in Australia, I found inspiration and solace in the words of Persian Mystical poet Jalálu’l-Dín Rúmí (1207-73). In comparing and contrasting two very different cultural conventions I found connection with the Western art form of depicting the nude human body with the very traditional, spiritually artistic expression of Persian calligraphy and poetry. In this way I am able to follow a path that embraces aspects of a new culture and combine it with what I cherish of my old one.

Being ruptured between two cultures, two countries is a common situation among migrants of all cultures. The past will help us shape the present, maintain our connections to our culture, but can also be a tie to the old that makes it difficult to fully integrate. Whether the ideal of one’s utopia is reached through spiritual or personal reflection, it must be realized that it is entirely up to us all to shape this better world.

Can you describe your process when creating your self-portraits?

The process of creation of my self-portraits is not very complicated. I take photographs of myself in a range of poses and then use the images as core reference in creating my self-portraits. With this approach, I try to constantly reflect the notion of the past and the role of memory for recording and recalling it, as well as my perception of the present time. I change the  composition of my photographs in accordance with my feelings that I have at the moment and I also adjust the contrast of them based on my concerns and again my feelings. I cannot really say how I understand that my self-portraits are completed, I think you just know when you know by looking at them and sensing the completion.

What does being a female artist mean to you?

I was born in a very traditional and religious country , because of that it put a lot of difficulties and obstacle in front of women. There was a lot of immoral behaviors around the females who showed interest in studying art. I have faced a lot of hardship following my passion and  thus to answer the question “what does being a female artist meant to you?”, I would say all the hardships that I have experienced in my life especially as an Iranian female artist, I feel I am a worrier and a fighter. A woman who constantly needs to break the non-sense traditional rules to be able to gain her freedom of speech and to live by her basic rights as a human being. Art is my free world, it is my language to express myself, to reflect on my experiences.

What are your targets for 2019?

As I recently been graduated from my early childhood education degree, I have now more free time to spend on creating art. Therefore, my aim for 2019 is to create more art works and also, I want to challenge myself with experimenting different materials. I have the feeling that by end of this year, my outcome will be quiet surprising for myself and those who are following my artworks!

What can art fairs do to help support female artists?

Honestly, I think what art fairs should  do is to try to support both genders (male and female artists) equally. It is about a quality art work not male or female artists. I believe art fairs and judges involving in selection of artworks should be faithful to the fact on choosing the best  artist and helping them to grow in their world. From my heart I hope for the world that both men and women will have equal rights and freedom of speech as human beings.

Any advice you can give for other female artists just starting their practice?

My advice to young woman who are in the beginning of their career is to follow your passion and listen to your heart. Do not give up on what you truly love and what you truly are.

Which female artists, past or present, would you like to take for a drink?

I adore and admire Frida Kahlo. For me she is a woman who overcome a lot of barriers. Although she had a difficult life, but she did not allow any hard experiences to stop her. She was a worrier who never gave up on her passion. I would love to have drinks and a good dance with her! I think we would thoroughly enjoy each other company. I am such a good drinker and a dancer!! Hahaha..

Want to meet and buy directly from Sara Sohrabian? Well at The Other Art Fair Melbourne, 2-5 May, The Facility, you can!