Reverse glass paintings
Mahin Azima – One of Iran’s distinguished contemporary artists. Born in Tehran, throughout her school years she was attracted to topics that were associated with arts, and in particular painting. She pursued her passion by entering to the School of Fine Arts at Tehran University in 1948.
Azima is one of the first Iranian women whom graduated from Art Faculty of Tehran University in 1954. During her study years, Azima was interacting with other faculty forums such as Architecture and Decoration to expand her artistic vision and capabilities. Her hard work and passion to learn about the great masters such as Cezanne, Van Gogh and Gauguin has led her to perform as a professional painter later on.
Azima is now one of Iran’s distinguished contemporary artists with specialty in reverse glass painting.
ZH: What is reverse glass painting?
Reverse glass painting is an art form consisting of applying paint to a piece of glass and then viewing the image by turning the glass over and looking through the glass at the image. The method is challenging because the final layer of the image must be painted first. For example, for painting a face, the pupil of an eye must be painted on the back of the glass before the iris, exactly the opposite process of a regular painting. If the artist makes an error on this step then the outcome will not be editable.
ZH: Do you know of any other artist(s) who has done reverse glass painting in Tehran?
I don’t know of anyone in Tehran. But, more than 40 years ago, I came across a series of artworks which was done by an artist called Abdoljalili in Khuzestan (South of Iran). There were all painted portraits on glass and by the time that I found them they were partially broken. I got very interested in Abdoljalili’s artworks and style, which gradually had been forgotten.
ZH: Back to your artwork again, by looking at your paintings I’ve noticed that you use Persian classic motifs on your paintings, but it’s hard to classify the final work as a pure classic art piece. Your artworks carry a complex look and feeling of traditional concepts with a touch of modern feeling.
It’s true! When I found out that this style had been forgotten I tried to do something new and bring the old style into life but this time with a new look. So I started using Persian classic motifs and mixing them with modern retouches and then started to form it as a collage.
ZH: Like your stone works?
Yes. But I tried to form my collages in a different way. I wanted to be the painter of my own time and avoid using the old technics.
ZH: What was your painting style before choosing reverse glass painting as your main form of art?
Before reverse glass painting, I was very inspired by Impressionist style and I did some oil painting till 1968, which then I fall in love with painting on glass.
ZH: Some of your old art works show that your recent works are under the same influence as your old works. How do you describe the relationship between the 2 chapters of your painting experience?
Well it’s been always my vision, which got mixed with a style and ended up to form my paintings, regardless of the medium. So you might be right to see some similarities. For instance green is my favorite color and sometimes I tried to use less green but at the end I realized that the entire work was green. This is me and I can’t change it.
ZH: Is Glass the only medium that you currently use for your paintings?
It might be interesting for you to know that I haven’t been working on glass for some years. I used to work on very large pieces of glass and some of them got broken after couple of years. I thought it was better to pick a more long lasting medium instead of glass. Therefore, I replaced it with Plexiglas and it helped me to create very large pieces of work like 2 in 1 meters.
ZH: During your art journey, who inspired you the most?
Houshang Seyhoon (Architect, Sculptor, Painter, Professor, 1920-2014). I was his student at Tehran University Art Faculty.
ZH: If you wanted to name a few famous artists of your college years who would they be that you admire their art the most?
Behjat Sadr (Painter, 1924-2009), Parviz kalantari (Painter, 1931-2016) whom both joined the faculty after me. Also Manochehr shaibani (Poet, Painter, Filmmaker and Dramatist, 1924-1991) and Sohrab Sepehri (Poet and Painter, 1928-1980). Sohrab was one of my best friends.
ZH: Speaking about Sohrab, Do you consider Sohrab as a Painter or a Poet?
I’ve admired him as a painter, but people know him more of a poet.
We appreciate the time you spent with us and it’s an honor for ZH magazine to share the interview with its audience.
Interview by M.R Shahrokhi
Special Thanks to Medea Mahmoudian & Sanaz K