Today, a look at one of Session II’s painters, Hoda Kashiha. From afar, Hoda’s paintings appear amorphic and rich, distinctly colorful and lively. But draw nearer and you will see that these forms mistakenly incorporeal are in fact people and though they remain anonymous, without history and without place, they are not strangers, statistics, nor faces unfamiliar and misshapen. To label them as such would be to dismiss that which is universal and human among all of us – that by virtue of their expressions and actions, their desperations and reveries, they are interwoven into no other tapestry than that which is our own. It is no wonder that Hoda’s paintings and drawings whether abstract, absurd, or surreal convey a depth of humanity unconcealable by even the most peculiar of fortunes. Even her brush strokes, kinetic and spontaneous, are suggestive of this overwhelming livelihood.
What are you working on at Byrdcliffe?
I am painting and drawing, trying to continue and expand the ideas that I had before. I also want to try and explore different angles of working with oil paint.
Do your works aspire toward narrative or are they more abstract in nature?
I love both! Sometimes color is most important, sometimes the characters, it really depends. Since I don’t want my paintings to be conspicuous, I like using colors to explore psychological aspects and moods. Sometimes my paintings veer toward abstraction, but I still like to focus on humanity so narration can still play a role in my works. I’m always looking to find a balance. Ultimately, I want to deconstruct the typical narration and create a concrete and abstract meaning in my works.
I want to add that improvising plays an important role in my works. I want to be a blind person who follows her mood which can change any second, and in this way what I create be spontaneous and beyond my control.
Many of your characters seem to be of no distinct history and of no distinct location, perhaps even lacking in identity. What role do these characters play in your pieces and how does their ambiguity work towards your overall aims?
The interaction between characters beyond their culture, gender, and race is interesting for me, I don’t like to limit them to a specific time. They are like crazy people who are lost in the history. I just want to talk about the nature of humanity that exists throughout all history. I want to show the reality of mankind with all of its victory and failure, love and hate and their dreams. I want to let the viewers make their own interpretations. My paintings are open–they can be completely personal, or social and political. I like having ambiguity in my paintings because I don’t like to block the imagination of my viewers.
Lastly, can you talk about the theatrical and humorous elements in your work?
I find painting appealing because it is a kind of performance for me. When I am painting I move a lot in my studio–I am sitting standing, dancing, singing, and laughing with my characters. Because of this kineticism there is a link between my paintings and theater. I love theater especially experimental theater because it is an art that concerns the instinct of humanity and invites the audience to experience all different and opposite feeling with characters. As for the humor, I love to show different aspects of life in my paintings–these can be funny or tragic. Always, when I see a stupid or sad moment in my work, I like to poke fun at the situation in my head, and often this jovial attitude will influence my paintings. I know that if I have humor in my painting, I can compel my viewer to laugh and to think.
Byrdcliffe’s Artist-in-Residence Program hosts over 100 visual artists, writers, composers, musicians, performers and other creative professionals each summer. for more information please visit http://www.byrdcliffe.org/artist-in-residence
View more of Hoda’s work at http://www.hodakashiha.com/