17 Feb Farzaneh Mahjoobi — In Profile
When I left a corporate role in communications to start my own business in 2011, I had little idea it would take me to an interview with Iranian artist Farzaneh Mahjoobi. The only idea I had, in fact, was to make a living by writing, taking photographs and selling them at exhibitions.
Launching my own creative business GkJE in 2012, I worked as a project manager, copywriter and photographer, collaborating with graphic and web designers. I also produced and directed short documentary films for a gallery space I created, managed and curated.
Originally part of a rooftop apartment in Potts Point, the gallery moved inside Mercure Sydney, Potts Point in Australia’s somewhat infamous Kings Cross for almost four years.
Mercure offered me wall space and a rare chance to ‘experiment and learn on the job’. In 2013, I developed a partnership between the gallery and The Wayside Chapel – their mantra: ‘no us and them’ and ‘love over hate’ still resonates.
It’s a big deal to trust someone else to hang your show for public viewing. I certainly made my share of mistakes. With generous advice and assistance from a number of wonderful artists and photographers, my experience and knowledge grew.
It’s easy now to see what makes a show cohesive, why a particular piece may, or may not, fit into an exhibition – how placing one work on another wall can completely change the viewer’s experience of a show and support an artist’s intentions.
Between 2012 and 2017, I put together more than 50 exhibitions, including several large group shows at Mercure and for Sydney’s Head On Photo Festival.
Of these, several stand out: Astrid Verhoef’s Urbanite; Marea Reed’s Beneath Leafy; Parsa Jamalpour’s In Her Dream; Ullic Narducci’s Dark Night and Paula Broom’s photo-art and it’s connection to our built, natural and social worlds.
During the gallery years I also began interviewing artists, even filming some interviews, along with several exhibitions. The print interviews remain online at GkJE and the short films are available on Vimeo.
After Mercure closed its doors in 2016, the gallery moved briefly into Sydney’s CBD before it disappeared, followed not long after by the creative work. I began taking on short-term projects in corporate roles, essentially closing down GkJE, including the artist blog and interviews.
Remaining friends with many of the artists and photographers I’d represented. Parsa Jamalpour is one. Born in Iran, and living here with his wife and two children, Parsa facilitated this interview. It started with a conversation we had some time ago about artistic life in Iran, where I expressed an interest in interviewing an Iranian artist.
While I’d since moved into communications consulting, complicating and delaying publication of this interview further, was the world we entered at the beginning of 2020, with tensions rising between the U.S. and Iran.
In 2018, I launched Geoff Jaeger Consulting with the belief that we owe ourselves the opportunity to meet, and better understand one another. It is in this context, that I’m publishing this interview here.
I strongly believe there is more that unites us, than divides us.
Farzaneh Mahjoobi – In Profile
Translated by Parsa Jamalpour
Interview by Geoff Jaeger
How long have you been painting?
For 25 years.
What is your first memory of painting as a child?
I have so many memories, but one is that I used to go to galleries with my dad to see exhibitions by other artists. Seeing those artworks had a lot of influence in forming my personality for the future.
Has your father had a large influence on your work?
Yes he definitely had a great influence on my work, but when I became older I tried to find my own style and techniques in painting.
Where do you see painting and art fitting into Iranian society today?
Women in Iran have so much involvement in [the] arts. Iranian women are very active either supporting the artists or as artists themselves. They are very open to ideas and also communicate with others.
When did birds first start appearing in your work?
After studying a variety of styles in painting, I ended up finding my own way to paint and tried to develop that as a unique style of my own. Birds became my main prop as I see them as a symbol of love and inspiration.
What subjects do you love to paint and why?
I would like to show peace, friendship and love in my work. I believe nowadays there is a lack of these things in our modern daily life. I would like to promote them in society.
Which painters inspire you?
Picasso, Cezanne, Matisse, and Monet.
What experience would you like people to have from your art?
I want them to experience love, life and peace. I want them to forget what is happening around them for the moment they are looking at my paintings and enjoy a peaceful time.
Does travel to other countries influence your work?
Yes a lot. Every country has its own style and history. For example, when I was in France I was able to see the masterpieces of Claude Monet. I was moved, and my art was affected by his style.
Where would you like to have an exhibition outside Iran?
In Australia, perhaps.
Farzaneh Mahjoobi is the daughter of the famous Iranian artist, Hosein Mahjoobi. Farzaneh’s works are untitled as she leaves them to speak for themselves, to be interpreted by each individual.
A Brief Biography of Farzaneh Mahjobi
Born 1978 – Tehran, Iran
Diploma in Graphic: Fine Art Girls School
Bachelor in Arts / Painting: University of Arts and Architecture – Azad University, Tehran
Master of Painting: University of Arts and Architecture – Azad University, Tehran
Member of Iranian Artist Association
Member of the Institute of Visual Arts Development
Member of the Scientific Society of Visual Arts
Manager of Ashian Naghsh Mehr Gallery