Through my art, I am partly reacting to things that are happening around me and partly I am documenting moments in time or depicting what I would like to see.
Ahoo Maher's artistic career is as multifaceted as it is rich. From a passion for music and performance art to visual art, installation and curation, the Tehran-born artist does not shy away from exploring new media and often lets the subject matter guide her in her choices. Her current work centers around daily life from the female perspective and her delicate diary drawings provide an honest insight into her own personal world.
INTERVIEW WITH THE ARTIST
Q. You have several different professions - that of an artist, a curator, and a musician. How do you find a balance between these various forms of creative expression and their practical implications? Do you feel like they are complementary and easily spill over into one another or do you aim to clearly separate them?
A. They are all interconnected and complement each other which drives them forward. I started my career with music (cello), and once the need for visual arts arose, the two mediums combined and helped each other to develop. However, painting and drawing are now my main mediums for realising my projects.
In parallel, I collaborate with my sister Aftab Maher to curate various projects like Public Domain and Kunst am Stern. These exist primarily to support young artists and enable them to be seen and to make their own projects visible, which is also very good for my own art.
Q. Did you always want to be an artist?
A. I come from an artistic family - both my parents are visual artists. As a child, I always thought I would become a visual artist, but when I was 9, I saw a cello player at a vernissage and ever since then I have been in love with music. I went on to study music and often played on stage. Back then, I was still about 10 years away from creating visual art, but at the age of 20, I realized that I had to draw and that’s exactly what I like to do now and how I can best express the things that occupy me and the concepts that come to my mind. It was also then, that I started to study painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna.
Q. What draws you to the performative aspect of the arts?
A. Performance art allows me to combine my two artistic directions: visual art and music. Performance art is also fundamentally different from painting in terms of the viewers. In my performances, the audience can witness the whole process of creation and even affect change during the performance. With painting, only the end product can be seen. The creation and development of my paintings in my studio remains a secret, so to speak.
Q. Does fleetingness play a role in your work?
A. Through my art, I am partly reacting to things that are happening around me and partly I am documenting moments in time or depicting what I would like to see.
Q. Your drawings seem to have a journaling kind of feel to them, are you basing them directly on personal experiences?
A. I started the Diary Project couple of years ago because I wanted to document my everyday life in my own way. I started to record my days by drawing in my own style. I continued this routine for a few years, creating one drawing every day that was inspired by various daily events and also the news. The drawings became more and more personal and eventually evolved into self-portraits. Unquestionably, one can see the effect of social media on them. I attempt to express my feeling and emotions in these self-portraits.
Q. Do you think art should be/is always personal?
A. In my opinion, the person and the Artwork are a combination that have meaning and are significant to each other. Whatever happens to the artist also happens to their work, which means that it may have been personalised, or better said, the subject matter is shown through the artist’s perspective. However, that does not mean that every artist should only deal with subjects that they have experienced themself.
Q. You were born and grew up in Tehran, Iran, does your cultural heritage find its way into your work?
A. I grew up in Tehran so I must have taken a lot with me, but I have also collected a lot of experiences in the last 13 years in Europe. I am a combination of these two cultures and I think they are both evident in my artworks: from elements of Iranian miniature painting, to the everyday life of a 31-year-old woman in Europe.
Q. You studied contextual painting under Ashley Scheirl at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, could you describe what this experience was like and how (if so) it has impacted your work or vision?
A. Yes, she played a very big role in my artistic path and through her I have also been much more exposed to feminist art. My time as a student was a very interesting time for me, I was allowed to see and experience a lot of artworks and experiment until I could find out for myself where I stand and what exactly my interests are.
I learned that every concept is capable of demonstrating which media it is most suitable to - I just have to deal with the topic longer in order to find my own way to express it.
Q. Which other creatives do you admire?
A. My two favourite artists are David Hockney and Lucian Freud. I have learned a lot from their works, especially their Portraits.
Q. Could you describe your work in three words?
A. My world perspective