Katty Biglari is an Iranian-born abstract painter living and working in Washington, D.C. She just opened a group show with three other artists at Gallery B in Bethesda, Maryland.
Kayhan Life caught up with Biglari for a conversation before the exhibition opening last week.
When and how did the idea of this exhibition come up?
It happened very organically. I ran into my friend Grazia while jogging. During our chat, she asked if I was interested in a group show at a place called Gallery B. Gallery B is managed by Bethesda Urban Partnership and awards the space for a month to interested groups. I said yes.
After the application process, our group was offered the February 2018 slot. The artist who started the process and another member backed out, so we were down to three. Nora accepted to join our group at the end, and we became ‘Us Four.’
Can you describe the other three artists in the show and their practices? What are the similarities and differences between you?
We each have our individual strengths. The magic of this show is that the works complement each other. Grazia Montalto works with ink & marker; her cityscapes are intricate colorful drawings with messages. Yolaine Brochard is a sculptor and photographer. Nora shows paintings and drawings, and has an augmented video display which interacts with the viewer. I am displaying large colorful paintings in acrylic. What we have in common is our connection to nature and the cosmos.
Can you describe your own art practice? What kind of painting do you do?
The paintings on display at the gallery are a departure for me. As empty-nesters, my husband and I moved into an apartment, and I closed my studio. Having to adapt, I stapled canvas to a wall and started painting in acrylic.
My approach to developing imagery on a blank canvas has been honed over time. Painting is a language, and it communicates. The tools are line, color, texture, and image. After staring at the blank canvas for some time, I get going.
The most difficult brushstroke is the first one. I work from my imagination, and in abstraction. I decide on the general idea for the work, but the painting develops organically. I use multiple layers of paint to get the color. My process is simple, but the result appears complex.
How long have you been painting?
Studying painting was a mission. I joined my sister at Mount Vernon College in Washington DC in 1978, before the Revolution. After receiving a BA in Interior Design, I was accepted to George Washington University. I had to get a BFA [Bachelor of Fine Arts degree] in painting before entering the graduate program. I received my MFA [Master of Fine Arts] in 1987.
What draws you to art and painting in particular?
That’s the eternal question. Why is it that each of us do what we do? I’ve tried to rationalize it. Put simply, it’s always been a drive.
Does being Iranian infuse your work in any way?
Iran is in my bones. Yet it does not define me. The Revolution had a long-term impact on my life and outlook. With our families scattered, we Iranians have become global citizens. I have been exposed to other cultures that have shaped my daily thoughts and routines. I have always been attracted to Western art. I took many art history courses in college and continue to follow the art world today.
Are you in touch with other Iranian artists living and working in the U.S.?
I have many Iranian friends who are creative people and artists. They are painters, photographers, sculptors, writers, film-makers, jewelry-makers, or practice other disciplines. It’s the karma that brings us together.