Joya: AiR / Anahita Akhavan / Iran


“When I first arrived at Cortijada Los Gázquez (Joya: AiR), I took a long deep breath, filled my lungs with the unique scent of the land- a fusion of lavender and rosemary. I inhaled, the almond trees, mountains and let the wind whisper in my ear. Immediately felt the narratives of the previous settlers in my head, their struggles with drought and water scarcity. During my days at the residency, I consciously allowed myself to immerse in the irrational quality of inspiration. I felt the urgency to create a direct and a primitive contact with the rough, arid yet serene landscape of Los Gázquez. I wanted to investigate how it feels to temporarily settle in this raw unfathomable territory.

I wanted to explore oil pastels on paper, something that I never used before in my practice. I was hoping that I could start a new body of work with an unfamiliar material as a response to my experience of being in a new territory. I chose oil pastels for the simplicity and immediacy in its pigmentation to articulate a new gaze toward my present time and space. While working with oil pastels I discovered an alternative aspect to my painting approach; this time I started to represent the landscape through simple shapes and colors. I became interested in the sharp vivid colors of oil pastels, psychedelic cadmium yellow on a cobalt blue ground could only depict the raw organic nature of Los Gázquez for me. 

What I gained at the residency was a different pathway of thinking in my practice. The people, architecture, and nature they all planted new seeds of contemplation in me. When I left the residency I felt content and blessed. I appreciate what Donna and Simon have created for artists and I am incredibly grateful for my experience at Joya: AiR”.

Anahita Akhavan