“My works investigate the multiple identities and struggles of women and explore how they negotiate the demands of public life”.
Argineh Zadoorian is an exceptional Iranian Armenian American artist, who is currently living in the United States. As soon as you get to know her artwork, it is impossible not to be captivated by her way of highlighting the female figure.
Her paintings are a beautiful reflection of her multiculturalism, without leaving behind the importance of portraying the different challenges that women have according to their culture.
In this Q&A Argineh Zaadorian shares with Pose Space her admiration for the female figure, which experiences have influenced her work, her favorite mediums and more:
Can you tell us about your background and how you got into art?
According to my mother’s memories, I started scribbling when I was only nine months old. As far as I remember, I have drawn and painted my whole life. As a young girl, I always wanted to be a fashion designer, and some part of me still wants that very much. But it wasn’t easily achievable for a woman in the Middle East. So, I just kept drawing fashion illustrations and kept them only for myself, with the hope that one day; finally, I can show them to someone. That day arrived almost thirteen years ago when I came to the United States. I went to FIDM and I was told I even have my thesis illustrations ready, but considering how expensive it was, I decided to go to community college instead, so I went to Glendale Community College and later on I transferred to the University of Southern California, Roski School of Art and Design with a merit scholarship and I received my BA in Arts with honors in 2017. Since then, I have been working full time as a private art tutor, and freelance artist/designer.
It can be seen through your work, your admiration for the female figure. How did you get there?
I am an Iranian Armenian American female artist. Identity politics is the essence of my work. Identity politics focuses on sexual, racial, and ethnic concerns. Oppression of women being one of its main topics. My works investigate the multiple identities and struggles of women and explore how they negotiate the demands of public life. In my figurative work, the seamless renderings of women sit among subtle words referring to contradictory expectations. My paintings draw from two different traditions: European approaches which put female nudity at the center of art; and Iranian/ Armenian-inspired motifs that foreground pattern, language and composition. I put similar questions to other women in my smaller paintings, turning their stories into visual diary entries. I ask how external “concepts” about who we are bury themselves deeply into our experiences and lives.
What are your goals or aspirations as an artist?
My works are diverse depending on what the purpose is. Sometimes the purpose is to just visually please the viewer, and to take them into a comfortable place even if it’s temporary. For this, I do character designs and I post the process of my work on my TikTok account. This is just for fun. With my figurative works on the other hand, I create an atmosphere for a conversation with the hope of raising awareness on serious issues related to identity politics, and eventually, to bring some solutions.
How has your style changed over the years?
Well, my style has changed and it hasn’t. I definitely grew as an artist both technically and intellectually. The quality of my figurative works has changed towards better over the years with more practice and experience. I keep using the female figure and pattern as two important components of my works and this hasn’t changed. The visualization of it though, has indeed changed. I also do more realistic drawings and paintings than I used to do.
What life experiences have influenced your work?
Being a “child of the revolution,” as we were called back in Iran, I have seen firsthand effects of war, conflict, struggle, discrimination, inequality and most important of all constant oppression. These all directly or indirectly have influenced my works over the years. But as time goes by and my attachment with the past experiences reclines, the new experiences replace their place and these also create a new body of work.
What do you think of PoseSpace? Do you have a favorite model?
I love PoseSpace! I have been working on a large painting for over a year now, and all the figures in the painting are PoseSpace models. There are over ten models in this painting and I cannot wait to share this work with you. I definitely have favorites, which are, Adhira, Anastasia, Katja, and many more. I would also like to use Katarina K’s photos (those photos I haven’t purchased yet) as a reference for my future works.
What would be your advice for those people who want to start a career as artists and do not dare to take the first step?
Dare to take the first step because if you never give it a try you will never know how it will be. Spend your time, money, and energy on doing something that you are passionate about because then you can do your best and you will see results. The life of an artist is just so amazing to miss.
What are your favorite mediums and why?
Even though most of my recent works are in oil and acrylic paints, I love watercolor the most. I specifically love its transparency. Also, it dries fast, it doesn’t smell, and it’s not messy. I love working with pointed round sable brush, and it works best with watercolor. My favorite paper is Arches hot pressed watercolor paper.
How do you start a work — do you have any rituals?
Depending on the kind of work, sometimes I do research, reading and preliminary sketches till I actually make the work, whereas other times, I just start working on my surface without any initial preparation. I usually play my favorite TV shows, the ones I have watched multiple times, while I am working. I know every character by their voice so I do not need to watch it, and I can just listen to it. Other times, I just listen to music or audiobooks while I work. There are times however, that I work in complete silence so that I can hear the natural sounds around me. I always have a drink next to me when I work. (Herbal tea, red wine, or mineral water.)
Which artist inspired you?
As a little girl I was so inspired by Leonardo’s drawings, until I received a gift. My father bought me a pictorial art history book that had some of Caravaggio’s paintings, and I fell in love with his works immediately. I remember I would hug the book and sleep in my bed. My mom used to have these fashion magazines that were illegal. And I just loved Georgio Armani’s, Christian Dior’s, and Valentino’s designs.
Every single artist’s work provides an insight. What I really value is the creative impulse. If I don’t like a work, I just want to rush into my studio and make a work that I like, and if I like a work, I again want to go to my studio and make a work. I also get inspired by seeing posts from various fashion designers, reading books, reading poetry, and watching TV shows. Once an artist, you get inspired by every single thing if it is in your viewpoint at the right time.