Darius Izadi is a multi-dimensional artist who draws on his roots and experiences to create layered works that offer more than meets the eye with an aim at sparking conversations and shifting the way we view art and the world around us.
Creativity Undefined spoke with him about his artistic journey, how the pandemic impacted artists’ roles in society, what can be done to further support indie creatives, and his future goals.
How has your artistic journey been so far?
My artistic journey so far has had ups and downs in the past, however in the past couple years I have felt a much better sense of stability within my creative journey. As I have grown older, I have achieved a better sense of who I am and in which direction I want to take my art. Overall, a more refined pathway over the past few years.
Looking back, is there anything that you would change, or wish had happened differently? What? Why?
Yes absolutely, I have made some mistakes in regards to my choice of education in the past. From my early youth, I always had the intended pathway of becoming an artist and nothing else was of interest to me, no matter how hard I tried. However, the social expectations and pressure around me caused me to explore fields that deep within, I knew I had no interest in and would have no benefit from. For example, I decided to take the International Baccalaureate, where you focus deeply on six subjects in all fields. However, this was not of benefit for me as I was – and still am – only interested in the arts and a different pathway would have helped me develop further for sure.
Has your work and artistic style changed since you first began? How about since the pandemic began last year? How? Why?
My work in my early teens was barely scratching the surface of my creativity, I think that as I was unsure of what to create and how to do so I wasn’t able to open up my mind to all of the creative possibilities. However, over the years I refined my technical skills and now had the ability to create what I had in mind. The pandemic definitely caused a big change in my style, it allowed for endless hours of thinking and conceptualizing, which helped me get to where I am now with a clear vision of what I want to create.
Do you have any work that you consider as your favourite? What? Why?
As can be seen in my website, [in the section] (2021 Portfolio), my favorite pieces have to be my painting titled “Khomeini on the Alps” as well as “The First Supper After The Revolution”. I believe that these pieces are my favorite as they are very near and dear to my heart. “Khomeini on the Alps” is an appropriation of Kehinde Wiley’s appropriation of “Napoleon Crossing the Alps”. I researched Kehinde Wiley and was fully intrigued by how he twisted popular Eastern pieces of work with his own culture to not only have representation, but also educate the viewer simultaneously. My primary purpose for this piece was to include artist techniques from Wiley’s Piece and merge them with my ideas and intentions. I decided to expand on Wiley’s intent of placing a black figure of authority by using Ayatollah Khomeini as the subject. A man that is loved, feared, respected, and hated. This piece can be viewed as a leader coming into Iran and saving the country or a dictator taking over what was a beautiful place called Iran. The breaking stones can be viewed as the country shattering or the stepping stones of a leader to rise depending on the viewer’s perspective of the Iranian revolution. My other piece titled “The First Supper After The Revolution” is also a very important piece to me as I took in my knowledge of the revolution as well as my experience living in Iran and turned it into a historical and educational installation. This installation is an expansion of the first piece “Khomeini on the Alps”; I wanted to create a second piece based on the Iranian Revolution that shined a light on the causes and effects of the revolution on the country as a whole. Each set is a representation of the capitals of Iran: Tehran, Shiraz, Tabriz, and Isfahan. I studied patterning from each region, and came up with my designs for each set. Most plates, bowls, and cups are smashed, representing the conflict and chaos that broke out in each city. Some pieces are glued back together to resemble citizens reuniting and grouping into those in support of the Islamic Republic State and those against (cracks are painted in gold). The hung pieces allow for the effect of chaos and erosion concerning Iran as a whole.
Have you ever considered exploring a different topic or concept? Why?
Yes absolutely, within my work especially my 2021 portfolio, I focused on the central theme of comparisons. Whether it was the comparison of physical features or comparison of societal expectations or even the comparison of masculinity vs. femininity. Within my work, I don’t like to restrict myself on where I want to take my pieces. However, focusing on a central theme allows me to dive deeper into my concepts and have a better understanding of what I want to show and how I want to show it. All of the topics and concepts explored have a personal connection to me as a person and bring in my own individuality.
Your work touches on a range of topics from tackling Iranian culture and heritage to commenting on current societal issues. Is there any topic(s) that you prefer to focus on? If yes, what and why? If no, why?
I prefer focusing on the themes of culture and identity. I think this allows my work to be in the most authentic state as a piece of myself as an artist gets brought in. For example, when talking about culture I bring in an analysis of my personal beliefs and background but also leave room for interpretations. The same goes for the themes of identity; I like to bring my own morals and observations from societal issues into my pieces.
Did you have to make any pivots or adaptations since the pandemic began? What? Why?
The biggest adaptation that I had to make since the pandemic was my working space. I attend a local arts studio called “Maria’s Art Studio”, where there is a rather large creative space for young artists like myself to work, be able to have critiques and get feedback from the highly qualified studio teachers Maria and Soudi Peat. However, due to the pandemic, the studio closed for many months and I had to work from home, restricting my space and access to materials as well as criticism.
What do you think of the announcements made by the UAE government and other organisations over the past year that aim to support the arts and culture community?
I am ecstatic about the new announcements made by the UAE government in the past year, one of which being the access to citizenship and a UAE passport to renowned artists. This is a huge step towards the recognition of artists. I feel that often artists are looked down upon and are not considered in mainstream career fields whereas in reality, artists spend endless hours refining their work and style and deserve much larger recognition than how we are presented in society currently.
What more do you think can be done, especially to support indie creators?
I think a lot can be done to support indie creators. Very simple things such as social media can help significantly. A simple follow, like or repost can allow further recognition of artists and creators and allow for more access to the
Do you think the pandemic has impacted artists’ role(s) in society? If yes, in what way and why? If no, why?
I believe that pandemic has caused a change in artists’ role in society. Due to lockdowns and movement restrictions, I think that a lot of people spent more time online connecting with others and supporting others in times of need and this allowed for a better placement of where artists stand in society today. From my personal experience, the pandemic caused way more people to contact me and ask me for information on my work as well as a larger group with interest towards my work.
How do you think the pandemic has affected people’s relationship with art and artists? Is this a lasting change? Why?
I think that the pandemic has not necessarily changed the relationship between people and art, but has caused a greater gratification for the works being produced. Through many people picking up new hobbies and online support, I think both helped with the gratification and recognition of the works of indie artists.
Are you currently working on a project? Can you please share some details about it?
I actually just finished a new piece titled “The Modern Day Iranian”. The piece is a representation of a modern day male Iranian in society. It was mainly focused around me and my experiences as a third culture kid; I showed this through a self-portrait of modern day me, in traditional attire from the 1800’s and a background inspired by the Shah era in Iran. Overall, it is a representation of Iranian culture and heritage throughout time and different stages and shows the comparison of modern day and the olden days.
Do you have a goal that you’d like to achieve in the next few years? What is it? Why?
A goal that I would like to achieve in the next few years is receiving my Bachelors in the Fine Arts. I think that further education in the field of arts can allow me to refine my skills further and allow me to become a more refined and well-rounded artist in the end.