Perth artist Nick Zafir has gained notable reputation in the creative community. Zafir will be showcasing his first solo exhibition ‘FOLDS’ on July 20-30 at the Showcase Gallery at the North Metropolitan TAFE. His debut show will feature portraiture paintings of marginalised individuals within the city Perth. We had the chance to meet up with Nick in his studio, to find out a little more in the lead up to his exhibition.
What was the first thing you ever painted/created?
Most likely a penis on a bathroom wall somewhere. I don’t know, I used to fuck around making mutants out of my brothers War-Hammer. I wasn’t really a “creative” kid, never did art in school or anything. The first proper drawing I ever did was of a plastic chair at Uni, then painting came around the same time. I used to mess around with paints a bit before that, and I guess I was making abstracts at the time.
Your style in 3 words…
Observational, rough, involved.
What inspires you to paint?
I’m always painting outside, just testing things out, but if I think studio painting will add something I can’t get elsewhere, then I pick up my brushes and go for it. There’s elements of painting that can serve the purpose of certain ideas, so I seem to paint in periods.
I’m fascinated by all sides of being human, the good and the bad – together. I think the aspects of life that are not traditionally considered content or savory are the realest and truest qualities of life. When I meet people that reflect this, or when I go looking for them and they are responsive to it, I feel the need to paint.
Tell us a little about your creative process?
I spend time talking to as many people as I can, they are my source. It always amazes me what communicating can do. I try and ask as many questions as I can, then I decide what to do with it; and its not always painting – I’m a big believer in using whatever medium suits the idea best.
How do you choose your subjects?
It depends on what I’m doing but it usually starts with conversation; If I have an idea or something I want to explore, there are certain people that would suit it better than others. I try and find those people and see if they’d like to be involved. People who have really been touched by life and felt the full range of what is out there capture my attention. They represent the full human experience.
These people are real, they’ve been through shit, they’ve been hit by trauma and tragedy and they represent the truest aspects of our society. These people deserve to be recognised. I’m not super interested in ideals, I’m over that… show me the reals.
Favourite artist and why?
Dr. Seuss; He’s the real life Mad Hatter…if the Mad Hatter wrote books that drastically influenced generations.
What medium do you enjoy most working with?
Spray paint. The physicality and effectiveness of it is something I’ll always be drawn to.
What do you hope to achieve with your works?
If the paintings can hold peoples attention visually that’s awesome, but what I really hope is that people will spend some time getting to know the people in my images; these people’s backgrounds and their experiences. I think these people are important and their experience can be applicable to all of us. I’m interested in creating works that respond to what’s happening around us, that highlight the parts of the world that we look away from, especially when we live in a world that has visual fatigue and a habit to scroll past things. It’s not about shock. To me it’s about presenting what the reality is and letting people decide on their own. There’s something quieter and longer lasting than shock. That’s what I’m after.
Favourite place in Perth?
The Jazz Cellar, that place is next level.
Tell us a little about your upcoming exhibition ‘FOLDS’.
“Folds” is a project, which focuses on people from Perth who exist between the every day archetypes – hence the “Folds”. “Folds” centres on giving voices to individuals within society who may feel often overlooked or dismissed. I hope to humanise and artistically portray what these people have encountered through interviews and portraiture. Allowing people to understand individuals in sexual transition, drug rehabilitation, recovery from trauma, homelessness and more.