By Nazanine Nouri
Katty Biglari is an Iranian artist whose delicate new drawings of Paris have gone on show in Washington, D.C. — and received coverage in the Washington Post.
Her exquisite views of the French capital appear on a scroll that’s wrapped around rollers and fitted inside a box. Each view can be seen as it scrolls by inside the box. The exhibition, “CounterCurrent,” was reviewed in the Post earlier this month — and is on at Gallery B on Wisconsin Ave. in Bethesda (through Feb. 28).
Earlier, Biglari worked on geometric felt-tip drawings that were popular with collectors.
“Series II,” one series of felt-tip drawings, sold for $5,500 at an auction benefiting the Magic of Persia charity in Los Angeles in February 2020. She is represented by the Leila Heller Gallery in New York.
Kayhan Life caught up with Biglari to find out more about her Paris drawings and her art career.
How did this new work of yours, this Paris scroll, come about?
I have visited Paris over the years, as my parents live there. With the declining health of my Father, and the COVID-19 crisis, I spent most of my time there.
Drawing has been my medium of choice for the past two years. After my Father’s passing, and with the show coming up in Bethesda, I decided to change the geometric style of drawing that I had been working in. Using graphic drawing pens on Japanese scroll paper, I made the neighborhood around my parents’ home the theme, and recorded the spots that I particularly wanted to remember.
You’ve shown this work in an exhibition that has received coverage in the Washington Post. Can you talk about that exhibition?
A group of us launched the Art4Us cooperative (#art4uscoop) as a platform for international artists in the Washington area in 2020. Our original group of four (myself, Grazia Montalto, Nana Bagdavadze, Antonella Manganelli) and Alessandra Ricci are exhibiting multiple works. We also have three Iranian artists, Parinaz Bahadori, Lili Esfandiary, & Mary Tavakoli showing with us.
What does your Paris scroll show?
The images start with La Gare, the original Passy train stop in the 16th arrondissement, which is now a hip restaurant. The 11th and final image is the cover of the book Arsène Lupin, which mysteriously caught my attention one rainy day. The jovial, cheery face on that cover drew my attention. Arsène Lupin was a legendary movie character during my childhood in Iran. Posters of the Netflix remake were pasted all over Paris.
The challenge was how to present the scroll. I took inspiration from the display boxes of the American 20th-century artist Joseph Cornell, one of the pioneers of assemblage. My fascination with the artist led to the idea of a shadow box. I fabricated the display case by using balsa wood as pivots, and used accessories to complete the project. The images appear individually, and you get the sensation of a moving landscape.
What are some other Paris sites that you’ve represented?
The imposing sculptures in the Parc du Ranelagh, and the Musée Marmottan — home to a great collection of Impressionist painters, Claude Monet in particular. There’s also the Bois de Boulogne nearby, which boasts some 2,100 acres of trees.
I occasionally went to watch the sunset at the racetracks of Auteuil, with their expansive sky and green stretch of grass. And of course, the Eiffel Tower was ever-present and a constant reminder of location.
What’s next on your to-do list?
I look forward to putting down the pen and picking up the brush. My passion is painting and that is where I will be heading.
Your last series of drawings sold very well at the auction in LA last year. You are now represented by the Leila Heller Gallery in New York. Can you talk about that? What kind of works do you have on sale right now via the gallery?
Working with the Leila Heller Gallery was a highlight of 2020 for me. I have produced multiple drawing series that feature on my website kattybiglari.com. Some series are available for sale through the Leila Heller Gallery website. I look forward to another productive year ahead.