By Lynette Santoro-Au, Arts Manager for the City of Upper Arlington
An Iranian-born artist now living in Columbus, Raheleh Bagheri attended the Faculty of Arts at the University of Tehran, and afterward studied under the mentorship of prominent Iranian painter Daruish Hosseini. She later began sculpting under the tutelage of eminent sculptor Behrooz Daresh. She has had several group and solo exhibits in both Tehran, Iran, and in the United States, and she and her work have been featured on Iran’s national television station, Channel 4. Raheleh’s work will be featured in Faces of Columbus in the Concourse Gallery, May 4-June 22.
Lynette: What about a person/scene/object makes you want to sketch them?
Raheleh: I’m drawn to people with a unique face, a long beard, something unique about them that strikes me. I am trying to capture the contrast of the dark and the light in each portrait. I am trying to share what about the figure compelled me to sketch them. Though the images are abstract, there is a connection I want the viewer to understand.
Lynette: What is the reaction of people you sketch?
Raheleh: Most people notice that I am sketching them and don’t react or become shy, they’ll often want to see themselves in my drawings. Often times they will photograph the portrait and post it on social media. I’m curious to see their reactions, often they will remark that the portrait revealed something new about themselves.
Lynette: Your work is very personal — there is a lot of you in it; what is it you want the viewer to understand about your work?
Raheleh: There is an Iranian poem whose message is that everybody becomes my friend from their point of view—everyone reacts differently, but all are emotionally engaged. What you get out of my work is up to you, but I am provoking you to feel a connection to me and my work.
Lynette: What do you miss about Iran?
Raheleh: My family, the food, the good weather. I miss my connection to the arts and the artists I know there. My hope is that the people of Iran will one day experience the freedoms that I enjoy living here.
Lynette: What have you have found here to call Columbus home?
Raheleh: The freedom to be, to express myself without covering myself to create without censure. People are so helpful here and generous. There is a positive competition here to succeed.
Lynette: What sound or noise do you love?
Raheleh: Ocean waves hitting the rocks.
Lynette: What’s on your playlist?
Raheleh: When I’m doing anything creative whether sketching in my studio or cooking I am listening to music. Everything from Leonard Cohen to French and Italian operas to Persian music and jazz — whatever inspires me and each day that might mean something different.
Experience Raheleh’s work in person in Faces of Columbus: Raheleh Bagheri, on display in the Concourse Gallery, May 4-June 22. Join us for an opening reception on Saturday, May 5 at 6 p.m., followed by a talk on technology and the arts by Dr. Mark Changizi. The Gallery is located at 3600 Tremont Rd. in Upper Arlington.