Global Talent Art Prize (3rd edition)
Interview / Portfolio: Arzoo Azad
Can you recall the moment you knew you wanted to be an artist? What made you interested in arts?
Personally, I did not have that one magical moment of realization that I wanted to be an artist when I grew up, it came quite naturally to me, and I believe everything that happened in my life or every step I took, subconsciously directed me towards this path of being an artist. Ever since I was a child, I’ve always been more towards the creative side. Being the youngest in my house, I always kept myself occupied with drawing and painting to escape from the hustle bustle of living in a joint family. Another thing that led me to this career path could also be that I was actually good at drawing, since I did spend a lot of time indulged in drawing. However, my passion didn’t start from here, I inherited it from my mother who also wanted to pursue arts but wasn’t allowed to by her family as it’s not considered a valid career option in South Asian households.
Tell us about your artistic process and the way you brainstorm ideas? What do you usually start with when creating? How do ideas become artworks?
My artistic process is very controlled. It starts from an idea in my head about the composition and placement, which I would then transfer into photoshop and procreate and create exactly what I want the final piece to look like. Like I said, my process is very controlled, which works for me. Sadly, I am not one of those gifted people who can start fresh on a blank canvas and see where each stroke takes them. However, as an artist I do not have any favorable medium, I work with a wide range of mediums such as oil paints, charcoal, soft pastels, ink, graphite, collage, print, pigments and so on.
Do you have or have had a mentor or other special person to guide you?
I always studied art as a subject throughout my education and luckily, I had a bunch of amazing tutors, who are artists themselves, who guided and supported me, and most importantly encouraged me to realize my potential when I lost track of who I was. And I am extremely grateful for each one of them, and as cliché as it might sound, I genuinely believe that I wouldn’t be here without them. In saying that, I am not trying to imply that this career path and the choices I had to make were presented to me on a plate by my tutors. I still had to figure out a lot of things on my own, similar to a lot of other emerging artists as well. As we all know there is no manual for emerging artists or fresh graduates or not much help available out there about how to be a successful artist. Especially, coming from a South Asian background, it was a little more challenging as there are still a lot of stigmas around artists, and comparatively to other career options it’s still relatively a newer career path back home.
How has your style changed over the years? If yes, could you explain why?
In terms of my process, it has been pretty much the same. However, over the years I have tried to get rid of the sense of control in my practice and experiment with mark making. And one thing that helped me to let loose a bit was increasing the scale of my artworks, which was something suggested by my tutors during my bachelors.
Your artistic practice is very extensive and includes sound, printmedia, and installation. What kind of message do you wish to convey in your art?
As an artist, I want to put my two cents into trying to make our societies a better place for human beings to live in, especially women. I want to use my art as a platform to initiate conversations and empower women to reclaim their own narratives, identity, and most importantly, their own bodies. My artwork talks about how desensitized and apathetic mankind has gotten towards each other to the extent that we no longer care about human life. As absurd as it sounds, it is true, this is the extent that we have gotten at. Therefore, with my art I wish for viewers to realize and take accountability for their inhumane and aloof attitude against abuse, it’s a call for mankind to start treating each other as human beings and provide everyone the basic human rights regardless of their skin color, religion, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation etc. I believe it is crucial for us to actively believe in the value of human life and help those in need around us to reduce human suffering. It is vital for mankind to collectively work towards the betterment of humanity as a whole and promote human welfare to improve the conditions of living for each other on this planet.
Tell us more about what project you are currently working on?
Currently I am enrolled at the Royal College of Art for masters in Print and working on my graduation show right now. For my show, I am working with shared female experiences in the Asian households/Country, while thinking about the power dynamics in relations to gendered violence and abuse, male gaze, identity. My practice is a commentary on the male gaze and generational curses ‘bestowed’ upon us by our ancestors since centuries, which supported and strengthened the patriarchal structures, which contributed and encouraged the oppression of women in Asian societies.
What will be your next project?
For my future project, I want to further develop the project I am currently working on by looking at real-life examples of women’s lived experiences under the limelight of what I am working on, to raise awareness and create an impact through my artwork. I wish to be able to create a safe space for women to share their experiences, the way they want to share them. With my artwork I also aspire to initiate conversations and awareness about mental health, especially in South Asian societies.
What is your dream project?
I don’t really think I have a dream project in mind, as long as I am able to create work and creating awareness side by side and help improve the situation for human life, then I think I am fulfilling my duty as an artist.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you?
I believe that one should do what works for them, whether it’s creating art regardless of your state of mind or taking time off from your practice completely till you’re in the correct headspace for you. Personally, for me, I do go through artist’s block, or I do have difficulty producing work that I’m happy with when I’m not in a good state of mind. However, in those times I resort to doodling or scribbling on paper or my iPad, or reading books and researching to get the creative juices flowing which would get me back to my practice.
What is art for?
Art is for anyone and everyone, or whoever you want it to be for. If the artist wishes for their art to only be for them then that is exactly what it should be, nothing more and nothing less. In saying that, I believe my art is for those in need of a voice, my art is for trying to improve living standards for humans on earth regardless of their race, gender, ethnicity, sexual preference and orientation.
Thanks for the opportunity to interview you as the 2nd Prize Winner of the Global Talent Art Prize (2nd edition). Are there any final thoughts, in particular for the ones who would like to follow your way?
I would just encourage everyone to keep creating and spreading love and peace with their art.