WomenbyNargus Explores the Female Psyche Through an Ornate Aesthetic

nargus women

Photos Credit: Nargus

With a major focus on women, Nargus creates paintings that celebrate the female perspective from every aspect. Dark and intriguing, each one unique, Nargus visually proves that every woman has a message and a story to tell. Along with her artistic talents and interests, Nargus is also a scholar of the human mind. She has multiple degrees and is now getting her PhD in Psychotherapy. Her art easily reflects her vast knowledge, creating an elaborate example of female power with undertones of literature, psychology and politics. Nargus took some time from her art and her studies to tell JustLuxe about her interest in women and how she finds inspiration to create portraits and commissions for luxury clients.


What was your introduction to the art world?

I found art by way of the written word. I read so many books as a child, and there were certain phrases that just struck me. They began accumulating in my mind, reassembling themselves into new meanings, and I felt this impulse to do something about them. So I turned them into pencil sketches of women, sometimes charcoal. This was when I was in elementary school. In high school, I stumbled across Klimt and his use of gold to bring his women to life. But it wasn't until I started painting [in 2007] that I was able to construct these fragments into something that was truly my own, animated by my voice, which arises from the vast array of words and colors that have lodged themselves in my mind over the years.

What is your mission as an artist?

I paint women to give color to their multitudes, their histories and their individual layers of potential. The women whom I paint are bold, loud, and poised in the face of the societal impulse to define us--to, in some cases, silence us.

Where does your inspiration stem from?

Klimt is my bedrock, visually. Lyrically, it's Camus, Calvino, T.S. Eliot, Yeats, Poe, Neruda, Rilke, the list goes on and on. I also believe in the intergenerational transmission of creativity, and on the flip side of that, the transmission of loss: I was born in America but my parents immigrated from Iran before the 1979 Revolution. I have never experienced war, the loss of a home, the loss of culture, the loss of cities, the loss of a whole country. But my family has. I imagine it is like losing a limb, or feeling collapsed between two worlds, with a never-ending sense of not-belonging. I feel this–I feel it immensely–the anger, the sadness, the exile. Mostly I feel the burden that was placed on women after the Revolution–turning back the clock, erasing years of progress. I draw parallels with other places–America, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, in most countries, it's usually women who are shouldering the brunt of political misgivings and societal malaise. This loss and the creativity in the face of it, is what gives me inspiration. It's a story I am compelled to tell.


Why do you find women so influential?

Women are influential because they had to overcome history to win their autonomy–something that should be a right of birth. The women I am most influenced by are loud, bold and poised. I believe one can be intrepid without losing her poise or diplomacy or elegance or whatever you want to call it. I think that tension, between loudness and poise, is what my paintings embody most.

Do you think your background influences your work?

Both my Iranian background and my educational background influence my work. Iran is known for its hand-woven carpets, the curves in its architecture, and the color that underpins everything. You can definitely see elements of these in my work. And gold. To this day, I'm not sure if my use of gold is originally inspired by Klimt or Iran–probably a combination of both!  

You already have several degrees and are working on your doctorate, how does your formal education outside of art influence your creative works?

Lastly, I think my current work in psychiatry is very important to my artistic process and vice versa. My examination of the human condition informs and gives shape to my work as an artist, while my work as an artist grounds and readies me for my work in psychiatry. 


Can you describe your technique?

I paint in acrylics, ink, and with mixed media including gold leaf, silver leaf, Swarovski elements, and found objects. I paint on both canvas and wood. I start out with a rough pencil sketch and then I layer on the paint–I actually paint with my hands–the only time I will use a brush is when I'm doing tiny details like eyes. I've tried painting with brushes but it's not the same for me. Texturizing is a huge stylistic element for me and I achieve it through heavy layering.

You do portraits and commissions, what is your process on those works?

Every portrait and commission is different. Some clients wish to work in a more collaborative manner and some are very hands-off. Portraits and commissions usually begin with information gathering about the client: who are they as a person? What are their hobbies? What inspires them? Then I consider the space where the work will reside. Sometimes I visit clients' homes or businesses before I start the work just to get a sense of where my piece will live. After that, I'll send phase updates to my client and work with them to figure out if they want to frame the work.


Are you working on anything now?

On Feb 13, I had a private preview of my Royal Blood collection featuring Iranian Monarchs in my studio space. I will be having a spring/summer public show to debut the collection to a larger audience. I have a few series I am planning, and I'm not sure if they will be ready for the spring/summer show, but I am very excited about them. One series will be a collection of self portraits, which I have never done before.

Where can people see your work?

I would say my instagram (@nargus) is the most up to date place and it is linked to my WomenByNargus Facebook page. I try to update my website frequently, but it is definitely not as dynamic as my IG/linked FB.

Carly Zinderman

Carly Zinderman is a Senior Staff Writer for JustLuxe, based just outside of Los Angeles, CA. Since graduating from Occidental College with a degree in English and Comparative Literary Studies, she has written on a variety of topics for books, magazines and online publications, but loves fashion and style best. In her spare time, when she?s not writing, Carly enjoys watching old movies, reading an...(Read More)

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