From Iran to Germany – and to California via Canada – A Canadian artist’s story
“A picture is a poem without words” – Horace
Art cannot be explained. It is something that you feel. And when I first saw Aryan Ahangarani’s paintings, I felt all kinds of beautiful feelings. Her art moved me. And so I am very happy to be able to tell you a little bit more about a wonderful Canadian artist from Iran, who has lived in Germany and Canada. Aryan graciously accepted to tell me more about her life’s path and her experience of both Germany and Canada. Usually in our interviews, we present you a Canadian in Germany or a German in Canada. This time we have someone originally coming from neither country, but who experienced them both. A new angle for us all to contemplate.
A couple of weeks ago I joined a group of „Canadians in Germany“ on Facebook. I asked around if there was any artists interested of giving an interview to the DKG. Aryan Ahangarani was one of the first to reach out to me. When I visited her website, I knew I had to discover more about the person behind those beautiful paintings. So here is (some) of Aryan’s story, a summary of our zoom conversation of April 14th, 2021.
Aryan’s passion for painting started very early in her childhood.
Already at a very young age she could picture her surroundings in her head in great detail. And when asked at school at the age of six to draw her house, it came to her naturally to draw the whole floor plan and show everything in detail. Her teacher was astonished as it is very rare for such a young child to draw not only the house but the inside and with such precision. He immediately told Aryan’s mom to keep an eye on her and try to encourage her to continue drawing as he saw all the potential there was.
Unfortunately, after that came the revolution in Iran and art became a taboo. So Aryan continued by herself, practicing with books to try and quench her thirst for drawing.
Needing to express herself and her feelings, she later discovered writing and started creating funny stories about every-day-life for her friends and school; and those became very popular both with the pupils and her teachers.
As she started university in Economics, Aryan began fashion design and took art classes. That is where she discovered water colours. Later on she started working as an Economist for a consulting company, still doing fashion design on the side. She had several customers and various sold out fashion shows.
Then Aryan became a mom and had less time for her fashion. Sadly she did not have enough support, hence fashion-design, creation and sewing had to go on halt. But her urgent need to create and express herself could not be contained and she tried to find another way.
That is when she saw a beautiful painting in a frame shop. The painting, created by the art teacher Jamal Khoraminejad, reflected exactly the way Aryan wanted to paint. She knew she had to get in his class. So although Mr Khoraminejad’s classes were booked up months in advance, Aryan was able to convince the organizers to take her in. Her love of painting was huge and she really wished to be properly taught. This teacher was a revelation to her as he opened a whole new window and Aryan discovered a whole new way to satiate her craving for drawing, painting and expressing herself. She finally thrived and a year later had her first (sold out) show in one of the best galleries in Tehran.
A week later she was giving an interview on TV talking about her art and the way she feels when painting. That led to another TV show, this time a live airing, explaining how painting made her feel and what it meant to her, all while being careful of the way she was saying it as there were many restrictions; women not being allowed to speak too freely.
It is at around this time that Aryan finally received her visa to study in Germany which was no easy task at all, she had to fight her way through. As she was recently divorced with a child, which in itself was very difficult being in Iran, the authorities did not want to grant her the visa. Only with a lot of determination and resilience in overcoming the many obstacles was she able to follow her path to become the artist and the person she longed to be.
After much patience and courage, Aryan finally arrived in Germany with her four year old daughter. At the Kassel University she received her Master in Global Political Economy. True to her passion, she pursued her art at the university. All in all she had 4 art shows while in Germany. Her German experience was fantastic. It was, as she stated, the best time of her life. Aryan said that it is difficult to get to know people at first as Germans are more reserved. But once you earn their trust and they open up, they are the most welcoming people.
Aryan has countless stories where she was helped and encouraged by caring, lovely people. Like when she could not find a kindergarten place for her child but was allowed to take her to her masters class for several months in a row so she could still go on with her studies. Coming from a very old country she appreciated the history and culture in Germany;
the buzzing cities with so many activities. She was always amazed at how much Germans would know about history and politics in her home country.
But one day she decided to leave the country and that is when Aryan applied for immigration to Canada. As she already had a brother there, it made sense for Canada to be her next destination. With no-one to stop or hinder her anymore, she wanted to experience her freedom and see more of the world. This time, with her diplomas and life experience, the transition was easier. But coming to Canada was a total shock. They arrived at Calgary and after living in lively Europe with so much history, coming to this very quiet place was a big change. Also, people were very friendly but it was much harder to make friends; to be admitted into their intimate circle. Also Aryan had the feeling that Canadians were less informed about what is going on in other countries. But once again, art came in handy. The mountains and the beautiful skies became her inspiration. By painting the beautiful landscapes of Calgary, Aryan made contacts in the art scene, showing her work, connecting and networking. Even becoming an art teacher herself and sharing her knowledge, wisdom and passion. And so she made many helpful friends through her art over the years.
In 2019 her career as an Economist brought her to California. Her daughter, now 23, is studying European-Union Studies and Russian Affairs in Toronto. Aryan is a citizen of the world. A strong woman and role model who made it possible for herself and her daughter to thrive. An artist who shows her love for life through her paintings. Despite growing up and evolving in difficult situations, she always stayed focussed, going her way, believing in herself and that there was a place for her and her art. A very inspiring and beautiful story, full of hope and love, which we can all use anytime but especially nowadays….
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