Interview by Amanda Quinn Olivar, West Coast Editor
Haleh Mashian is an expressionist painter who works in a variety of media. For over 20 years, Mashian’s art has colorfully illustrated her unique and astute view of the world, both real and imagined. With layer upon layer of thick acrylic paint, and mixed media continually applied, scraped off and reapplied, her paintings reveal richly colored stratum of expressivity. In a state of constant exploration, she maintains a commitment to an established series of large scale paintings. Her large scale figurative expressionist collages are painted from live models but reflect universal themes of the feminine sublime and its energy in shaping environments.
Translating into visual form her inner expression and intuition using not only color, shapes and layers but also digital media to achieve her unique style and sensibility: fascinated by the similarities between color theory, Mashian merges theory with instinct, ultimately transcending visual boundaries and bringing all the senses to her work. Key to her creative process is her ability to translate into visual form her inner expression and sense of intuition. With this process in motion, Mashian dances with color and shape. Haleh Mashian studied art various institutions such as UCLA, Otis, and Brentwood Art Center, as well as earning a Bachelor of Science degree from USC. Originally from Iran, she is a longtime resident of Southern California with a studio in Santa Monica.
This exhibition is all about the color red... Tell me about the idea behind your piece. What was the process to transform that idea into reality, and how is "red" significant?
Let’s talk Red! To me red exemplifies totality. Total in a sense that it can enhance and complement so many other colors while holding its own integrity. It is powerful, passionate, sexy, erotic, violent, mysterious, festive…
Where does your interest in making art come from... Was there an aha moment? Tell me about your career path. How did it all start?
I work in different series. In this current show, I am exhibiting my Tears and my Red Rose. The idea behind the tears came from a crying meditation that was so moving, that compelled me to do a whole series. To realize that my tears are my most precious jewels. They make me human and to never be ashamed of my tears. To be able to cry without inhibition is so cleansing and transformative. The rose suggests the impermanence of beauty. It makes you wonder where the beauty has gone after the rose is dead… Because I cannot see the beauty anymore does that mean it does not exist? To capture beauty at its apex. Are we really Mortal?
Let’s talk about your subject matter and process. Does your body of work involve detailed planning and execution, or do spontaneity and experimentation play a role?
As I mentioned, I work in different series and each has a different approach. I would say the most spontaneous one is my Abstract Figurative Collage. I work from live models and I totally work from the moment. It is very exhilarating to trust the moment and the painting. To drop the mind and let my inner compass, my deeper intelligence, lead the way. Generally speaking, I am a combination of planning and throwing away my plans. Controlled chaos!
Who are your favorite LA artists and influences right now?
I recently saw two exhibitions at Hauser & Wirth that stayed with me and inspired me. Mike Kelly and Mark Bradford. The elegant futuristic approach of Kelly’s work was stunning. The visual aspect of it was very exciting for me. It inspired me to start a new Tears series with back-lit led lights. Mark Bradford was another awe-inspiring one for me. The scale, the energy and the surface handling was superb. I had a energetic physical response to it. As if I was the paint inside the painting.
What is your favorite art accident?
One of my favorite art accidents is when I put two mediums on top of each other without waiting for the first one to dry completely. The next day my surface cracked like a desert land. First I panicked; then I realized the cool method I had discovered that I incorporated into my paintings.
Photo of Haleh Mashian: Courtesy of the artist
August 25 - September 29, 2018