• Interview by Rosie Osborne

Farshad Farzankia


Farshad Farzankia in his studio in Copenhagen. Photograph by Rosie Osborne

Do you have very early memories from your childhood?


Yes... I have this memory from when I was around 6 years old... Driving around in the street where we lived. There were these very small mulberry trees. Just the smell of them... I remember it very clearly.

Farshad Farzankia's studio in Copenhagen. Photograph by Rosie Osborne

You grew up in Tehran...


Yes. I lived in Tehran until I was 9 years old, and then we moved to Denmark.


Wow, quite young. Was it a big contrast?


Yes, it really was.



Have you been back to Iran since?


I've only been back once... when I was younger. But I want to go back, very soon. I'm actually trying to work out a residency in Tehran. That would be cool. I'd like to travel through Iran and have some diaries with me to draw in.



Do you remember when you first realised that creating was something you wanted to do?


Yes... I drew a lot as a child. I did it all of the time.


Did you go to art school in Copenhagen?


I did graphic design at school. It was far away from Copenhagen actually, just at the German border. It was a tiny school, with maybe around 60 people. It was a bit like a residency! But it was good getting away from the city. There's so much noise here.



You had other careers, before becoming a painter...


Yes. I worked as a graphic designer, making movie posters. I loved it.


That's why you love movies so much!


Yeah, exactly!


Do you still look at film posters now for inspiration sometimes?


Yes. I just love looking at them.


Did you collect stuff as a kid?


Oh, always. Films, movie posters and stamps. I've got some very nice stamps from the time I was in Iran. They're very revolutionary.



If you could have any artwork from history on your wall, with no budget, which would you choose?


This one. Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. Did you see Henry Taylor made a version of this one? Actually, I would like those two, side by side. That'd be the dream!


Pablo Picasso. Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. 1907. Oil on canvas
Henry Taylor

If you could take any artist from history to dinner in Copenhagen tonight, who would you take?


Picasso. I think he'd be very fun to be around, you know.


Has there been a time in your life when you had to take a risk?


Yeah, when I decided to paint - to do it properly. I decided to get a studio. That was a leap of faith. I had quit my job and was painting full time. That part was kind of scary.



Do you sometimes dream about painting?


Yes I do. I often dream about being at a gallery or a museum and looking at paintings. But I dream of paintings that don't exist yet. It's quite strange.


If you could paint anywhere in the world for a day, where would you choose?


Tehran. I would just love to try it. It'd be so dreamlike. That would be crazy to do. I'd love to do that.



Is there one painting you've made that you feel particularly fond of?


Some of them I feel very attached to still. Sometimes I think that I should have kept them. There's one painting in particular. It happened at a very special time of my life. I've tried to paint it again, but it doesn't work...




Do you have a special place where you go to seek inspiration?


The studio... I really like to go to libraries too.


Is there a book that has particularly inspired you?


The book that I keep going back to is Bob Dylan 'Chronicles'. That has been a huge inspiration to me.



Is there anything thats feeding into your work particularly at the moment?


A lot of movies!


Portrait of Farshad Farzankia. Photograph by Rosie Osborne

When do you feel most free?


Here, I think, in the studio. And also when I'm with my family. I was thinking about this a lot actually. It's not up to society to give you freedom. I used to be quite political and ideological, you know. But somehow I think it can spark an energy just to believe in yourself, and act. I believe in action.



Is there a piece of advice that you've heard that you try to pass on to others?


There's an American artist called Kerry James Marshall that I like a lot. I was listening to him and he was saying that you should put yourself in a position so that what you're putting into the world has some kind of a value to other people. That really struck a chord to me and inspired me a lot.




Running Up That Hill, wood sculpture, 2018

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