Persian painter & fashion designer
Iran / Germany
The mansions of The Ritz-Carlton Residence in Dubai, the 25hours Hotel there and the London Art Biennale 2023 have one thing in common: artworks by an native Iranian creative who the media describes as “a walker between worlds“ are present at these far apart places. Her colorful, symbolic East meets West output is labelled as „wearable art“ featuring paintings and fashion – both being connected by a link: showing signs of hope and the beauty of freedom.
Persian painter & fashion designer
Iran / Germany
Thanks to the dragon Simorgh, this woman has realised her secret occupation aspiration when she was an adult standing on career crossroads! „The mythical bird from Persia's oldest ‚Book of Kings‘ (‚Schāhnāme‘) made me fly everywhere on its wings from an early age“, Elnaz Jàfari (* 1983 in Tehran) told Art Dubai Magazine. When she was four years old her Persian parents immigrated with the kid and her sister to Hamburg (Germany). „We had to assert ourselves early on as the Persian twins who wanted to fit in and yet were always different and also looked different from the other children“, she wrote on her old website. „Early on, I started asking questions about how identities are formed and how the cultural milieu can shape and change people. At the age of seven I ‚studied‘ everything I could get my hands on about the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Persians and was most impressed by Persian mythology and its symbols and what my family had told me about them. The question of identity and belonging and the contradictions I faced are today the fundamental themes of my art and life.“
This lady knows what she’s talking about because her remarks are based on personal experiences: „I looked Persian but felt German. I lived in Germany but still felt homeless. Early on I started to travel a lot and to look for my home. When I thought I had found it in Lisbon, I lost that too and was officially a nomad, devoting myself to my art. Unlike the oppositions I was exposed to for a long time - the Simorgh unified the limbo of unbelonging, into a cultural understanding of identity that explores how a person is defined by the cultural systems to which they belong.“
According to the Iranian believe for women from the middle-class to become either a lawyer or a dentist, Elnaz Jàfari conformed to the conventional wishes of her upbringing, enrolled for legal education at universities in Bordeaux as well as Paris and then successfully passed the state examination in Hamburg. But because she already had started painting as a child, this old love of hers broke its way and the dragon Simorgh came into play again. „I fantasized about flying into other worlds on his wings.“ That’s what she did in reality allegorical. The young lady studied in Florence und Milan (Italy) to do her MBA in Art, Design and Management, followed by working in the creative fashion industry while living in Lisboa (Portugal). But in this job it was impossible to live out her dreams, visions and artistic aspirations. So the multi-lingual globetrotter moved on again and decided to become an entrepreneur by setting up her own business.
Elnaz Jàfari’s entire oeuvre that reflects the two opposite elements of freedom and security, orient and oxides, identity and dualism, chaos and order, fear and hope, rise and fall, is generally full of colours and symbols. When asked about her artistic influences, she refers to her mother‘s Persian miniature painting style that is in love with detail and Max Ernst (1891-1976). The German painter and graphical artist (co-founder of Surrealism) invented the dripping method – something that she makes use of too. Regarding her creative process ‚EJ‘ has told German online-site ganz-hamburg.de something interesting: "The sadder or more emotional my mind, the more colourful my canvas!"
What refers to her fashion output which exists of elegant tonchas (large, versatile silk cloths to be used as (head)scarves, tops or dresses/ponchos, available on her website), the Iranian-German considers herself a soul mate with Elsa Schiaparelli (1890-1973). The Italian fashion designer and couturier transformed her artistic visions into wearable art also.
„In my artistic creative process“, Elnaz Jàfari reveals on her website, „I face the theme of identity not only in terms of content, but also in the creative process by giving the natural law of gravitation with colors their course and this way of colors my frame with form and symbolic power. In this process, the Simorgh accompanies and inspires me in my designs and is a central figure in my creative work. Over the years, it has undergone its transformation from a representational representation to the symbol of the abstract Simorgh. In doing so, I not only create paintings on canvas, but use sculpture, rugs, light installations and silks to create a broader representation of my sense of freedom and the matriarchy I grew up in through symbols and imagery.“
„With her paintings“, is to be read in a short feature-announcement of German regional programme ndr.de, „she wants to set a sign of hope regarding what is happening in Iran. ‚I am not a politician, but an artist. I can only use the instruments that are possible for me. Through the beauty of art I want to show what Iran really looks like when it's not like it is at the moment.‘ For doing so, the self proclaimed „free spirit“ gave a general advice in Art Dubai Magazine: „My message to everyone - especially women - is: Just do it! You are always strongest and happiest where you burn the most.“
Elnaz Jàfari is based in Hamburg (Germany).