“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
(George Bernard Shaw)
I was a nine year old kid when I started to paint on the wall of my room like a cave artist who depicted the “Hall of Running Bulls” on the cave walls at Lascaux. Occasionally, the Grown-ups came to my room and started to analyze my vital experience what was not a pleasure moment since, “Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.” I thought their analysis kept the truth away from my art and still I believe it. They closed the door of the affection in my innocent heart as an enemy, except my dad who was a poem written by life in my heart. In his eyes I saw myself as an artist with lots of master pieces. Because of him I studied art, music, play, philosophy, and drama which make me who I am as a painter today.
As an Iranian, the first philosopher hands that shaped my soul dough was Omar Khayyam who discussed lots of crucial questions of existence in his Rubaiyat:
“Some in deep thought spirit seek
Some lost in awe of doubt reek
I fear the voice, hidden but not weak
Cry out “awake! Both ways are oblique.”
He believed and so do I that it’s beyond our control to be born, and death is an inevitable fate for anyone who was ever born. All matters is the focusing on each moment of our lives which have tremendous qualities for changing ourselves and our world for having a beautiful future, although our fingers spin the tread for the raiment that we shall never wear; this is the beauty of life and the secret of existence. As an artist who is always concerned about existence, my paintings started with a sense of yearning to see beauty and order around me for coloring of my “To Be”, to learn drowsing with the sun like A Girl with Persian Goat(1990) that had harmony in its color, and classical symmetry and balance in its composition. I started painting by utilizing the brush tools, which didn’t satisfy my feelings.
Moreover, as a playwright student for a long time Descartes’ single principle that is “I think, therefore I am” was on my mind and soul debating subject. This dualism guided me to create paintings that force the audience to think. But at that time my Bible was Thus Spoke Zarathustra written by Friedrich Nietzsche who taught me the way of the thinking and acting like a child, the innocent existing with full of unknown and ready for proving herself by experiences. Lay the foundation of the future world by authentic pure values, and throw away all the hypocritically virtues. The first painting with this belief, The House in Nowhere (1995) was built on no land with more achromatic color and less light; the last one, The Pregnant of Spring (2000) was full of chromatic color and motions. Still I forced my hand to be a friend with the brushes.
At Tehran Art University as a graduate student, Professor Farzan Sojoodi opened the door of modern literature critique for me, which was the absolute phenomena way for thinking, observing and perceiving of art and literature. Through the structural linguistics of F. de Saussure that a “sign” is composed of “signifier” and “signified”, I looked back and saw my paintings, this time I was not a signifier of my signs and had no ultimate meanings conferred by me. I said bye to the brush and I began by palette-knife with thick textures and jubilant colors for catching eyes, then, I became satisfied to see my true feelings on the canvas.
Today, when I finish a painting and put it on the wall, the moment that somebody asks me, “What is the story behind it?” my response is,”What is your story about it?” As a result, my gallery visitors can follow the footprints of all those philosophers who shaped me. My paintings are my experiences of life, all of my paintings have heart broken stories, but I get positive results from a negative event in my life like The Spirit of Him (2009), The Woman Tree(2010), Chair(2011)…
After receiving my first master’s degree in drama at the University of Tehran in 2000, I published my dissertation as a book entitled Bayzaei’s Grammar and won the 8th-cycle “Student of the Year” award in the field of art in 2001. I taught the applied arts of acting, speech, and public speaking techniques at Ferdosi Teacher Education College in Iran. In 2004, I immigrated to the Land of Opportunity, and my drive to become involved in American culture and history fueled my decision to open an art gallery, Tea Haunt Canvas, in 2011.
Since becoming a graduate student again at Trinity College in Hartford, I have grown interested in attempting to understand the integration of American history and art. Attaining my master’s degree in American Studies allowed me to begin to understand the history and culture of the United States. To give an example, in my final project of my American Studies MA, I researched and produced three paintings that link the city of Hartford with specific human rights issues: Equality (2014) which linked the state capitol to the equality of marriage act that made Connecticut the third state in the nation to pass a law allowing for same sex marriage; the second, Freedom (2014), was a painting that linked Harriet Beecher Stowe to President Obama. The third, Justice (2014), focused in relationship to the welcome U.S Universities and colleges give- or sometimes do not give- to immigrant students and students of diverse background.
My thesis in MA program in Humanities and Social Thought at New York University explored the emergence of modernity in modern Iranian literature and its impact on visual art with a discussion of the intellectuals of the socialist-nationalist movement, who became trapped in Iran’s Islamic Revolution of 1979, and how Iranian revolution undesirably strayed toward the Islamic one.
Hence, all of my paintings include drama, politic and poem. I believe the prophetic mission of an artist is to discover the truth and to utter it, although who would seek truth and proclaim it to others is bound to suffer. Since who listens to the truth of life is not less than who utters it, my ears are open and my hands are alive. By painting, I may keep pace with the earth and the soul of the earth, which helps me to bind myself to myself, and others.
Parvin Pooya earned MA in drama at Tehran Art University (2000), MA in American Studies with Honor in Graduate Scholarship at Trinity College in Hartford Connecticut (2014), and MA in the field of Humanities and Social Thought/ The Art World with a scholarship in the John W. Draper Interdisciplinary Master’s Program at New York University(2017).
About Tea Haunt Canvas
“Parvin! Would you make some tea and have it together?”, said my dad. Since I was a child, I heard this request a few times a day. It was my pleasure moment, having tea with my dad. This gave us a time for more understanding and loving each other. Steam of Persian tea told us how good it would be if love were reciprocal. Opening eyes and starting the day by sweet smell of fresh tea was normal during my childhood. Brewing Persian tea with samovar machine means family time for chit chatting, laughing and enjoying. Tea time is a relaxing time after hard work that assists us in finishing a crazy day behind closed doors. For me painting and smelling tea have been connected like a bird and flight, and I like to share it with others because,
“Somebody introduced me to the sun.
Somebody took me to the gathering of doves.
Somebody taught me, Keep the flight in mind – the bird may die.”
I delight to tell stories by my paintings, like a poet who takes pleasure in reciting his best poem. We have forgotten or so we tell ourselves the philosophy of art life, which means to yearn for the spirit’s freedom that would teach man to rejoice with his neighbor at the light of the sun and the warmth of a cup of fresh tea. I believe that painting teaches me about my own creative expressions and those of my past. When I think of illusion in connection with an image in my painting, I usually assume that image is true to life. Painting enables me to become a better person, gives me a window into my thoughts and emotions and consequently exalts my spirit.
I look forward to sharing the experience of truth, roots of freedom and the unspoken, all entwined together in the silent heart of the painting. Today we are carried along the current of modern civilization, please accept my hand for reconciling Tea, Haunt, and Canvas.