Leili Tehrani Walker
Leili Tehrani WalkerFereydoun, 2022Acrylic on timber panel with gold leaf calligraphy240 x 120 x 5 cmLeili Tehrani Walker, Fereydoun, 2022£ 2,100.00
Leili Tehrani WalkerFiroozeh, 2022Acrylic on timber panel with gold leaf calligraphy240 x 120 x 5 cmLeili Tehrani Walker, Firoozeh, 2022£ 2,100.00
Leili Tehrani WalkerManzar-joon, 2022Acrylic on timber panel with gold leaf calligraphy240 x 120 x 5 cmLeili Tehrani Walker, Manzar-joon, 2022£ 2,100.00
Leili Tehrani Walker, Mehdi, 2022£ 2,100.00
Leili is a Multidisciplinary artist working across a variety of media, including painting, sculpture, tapestry, and digital graphics. In their works, they draw upon Persian Miniatures, Zoroastrian iconography, Islamic architecture, meme culture and queer histories. Using a saturated palette, and forcing perspective to defy the laws of physics, they combine these references with personal subject matter to create vivid alternate realities. Sacred architecture drawn from sites of spiritual significance and motifs from antique Persian rugs are woven with signifiers of their community to create dreamscapes that invite the viewer to celebrate the intersections of their various identities.
Born 1995 in Sydney, Australia
Lives and works in Naarm/Melbourne, Australia
2018 BA Philosophy, University of Melbourne, Australia
2022 Chahar Bagh, Backwoods Gallery, Collingwood, Australia
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS
2023 It’s Called Mental Illness, Luv?, Platform Arts, Geelong
2022 BACKW12DS, Backwoods Gallery, Collingwood, Australia
B-SIDE 2022, Blindside Ari, Melbourne, Australia
2021 A Droplet of Dew on Her Glittering Web, Tinning St Presents, Brunswick
BACKW11DS, Backwoods Gallery, Collingwood, Australia
2022 An Intangible Place Called Home, Fareed Kaviani
What Artists Eat, Forthcoming (removed, Verve print)
Feature, Verve Print, Forthcoming
Interview, Verve Digital, May 2022
Interview, Demure Magazine, January 2022
2019 Firoozeh, Lindsay Issue No. 4
I grew up in the Cross, the red light district of Sydney, Australia. My mother is Iranian and my father Australian. On Sundays my mother's friends would pour through the house for a poker game, a decades old bottle of torshi seer opened for the occasion. Monday I'd be blessed with the Avesta for the first day at school, before walking through the Cross, hand in my father's, amongst the detritus of a weekend of partying. The house smelled of sabzi, the street of tobacco and piss, and on the way home I'd eat a happy meal and gaze in the window of Risque, the local adult boutique, in awe of the people inside, dressed in lace and fishnets, heels taller than me.
When I entered high school, the Cross changed and we left. New laws, new residents, new rents, a program to clean up the streets, an attempt to hide the sex work and the queers from the folks moving in. With that move the frequency of our returns to Shiraz increased, and my mother began teaching me in earnest about her early life, family traditions, food and culture.
I'm lucky to come from a large family, my grandmother on my mother's side was the eldest of nine, seven of whom survived her and still live in the states. Our culture lives through them and they continue to educate the younger generation and keep us in touch with our history. My father's side of the family is filled with artists - thanks, in my belief, to the spirit and strength of his mother. A writer herself, she eschewed tradition to become the first woman PhD in Australian literature. Her children were raised with an appreciation for the arts and have each led creative lives in their own way, my aunt a poet, uncle a carpenter and my father a songwriter and musician.
I credit this melting pot - the rich history and culture in my mother's family, the emphasis on the arts in my father's and the support and love of both sides - with giving me the security and the tools to create the work that I do.
Moving to Melbourne to study, I encountered the queer community down here, and the support and mentorship of the queer studio I'm a part of gave me a window into the creative life I'd like to lead. I studied philosophy and mathematics at university, which helped cultivate ideas around manipulating physics and dimensions. I went into the degree thinking the rigidity of mathematics would be a pleasant departure from the uncertainty in continental philosophy. Where one degree would be filled with unanswered questions - my responsibility being to learn to argue my own point of view - the other would be unimpeachable axioms, clear and simple. I couldn't have been more wrong.
As I studied the structure, I took for granted in grade-school gave way and the pursuit of mathematics began to look a lot like that of philosophy. I found there is more than one way to prove anything, and more frequently than not, the axioms we take for granted cover deeper and more complex problems that can only be addressed with imagination. The uncertainty of higher mathematics allowed for something I didn't expect to find, creativity.
In uncertainty we find an opportunity for imagination. My work is a celebration of this uncertainty, of the discomfort of existing untethered, between places, between identities. A lot of what I do is an attempt to reconcile my mother's stories of Iran with my childhood in so-called Australia, at celebrating elements of my spiritual and religious practices that feel untethered here and at honoring the legacy of family that fled Iran and the rich queer history of the place I grew up.
Why did you become an artist and what has been your journey up to this point?
I started painting in my bedroom during my degree as an escape from study - at the time I didn't see the link between the imagination necessary in the classroom and that in my creative practice. Upon graduation I found I didn't want to work for anyone else, and the opportunity to work in an artist collective - Pink Ember - presented itself. Throughout the pandemic my practice transitioned to a full time position out of necessity. Distance from my family - and particularly my mother - during this time, along with the death of my grandmother in Shiraz gave me a drive to understand and reconnect with her and my family history, and thus my first body of work, Chahar Bagh, was born.
What is an average day in your studio like and what is your routine?
I need structure and routine to function, and spirituality and ritual is woven into this structure out of necessity. My mornings start with 30 minutes of meditation and journaling to clear the mind and rid myself of any fear around filling a blank page. After that, I sit down and do admin, emails, invoicing, eugh. Anything admin-related I have to do in the mornings, because as soon as I sit down to paint, nothing else matters.
My studio is a sacred space, so I don't bring emails in there. I usually enter around midday on weekdays and begin. I have a testing canvas up the front and this is where I try out new materials and ideas. Before anything else, this must be addressed. A swipe or spray of paint, some masking fluid, a stroke of oil pastel - something must be added or taken away to signal the shift in my day, the switch to creative time.
At the moment I'm working on a new body of work, so most of my studio time is spent researching, reading books, note· taking, writing and testing new materials. I'm moving towards oils and so I've been spending some time in the studio experimenting with impasto gel and palette knives.
In the evenings I'll head to the gym and wind down with some sketching. Right before bed I'll journal some questions to address in my morning writing practice and then I'll meditate.
Whatis your creative process?
Because my work incorporates so many motifs and elements, my creative process is very research-heavy. Before embarking on a new body of work, I'll spend several months reading, writing and sketching to collect talismans and artifacts for the new pieces.
When I'm ready to begin planning works, I scan all of my sketches and collage them digitally, manipulating perspective, adding textures and re-drawing where necessary. A final sketch of each piece is created and then scaled & transferred onto the surface on which I'll paint. And then I begin laying paint on canvas - arguably the shortest part of the whole process, but definitely my favorite, the most meditative - a single piece can take anywhere from 1-6 weeks to paint.
How do you choose a medium for your work? Do you prepare and plan or do you improvise and experiment?
For all my pieces to date I've used gouache -I love how pigmented, easy to layer it is and how flat it lies. Increasingly however I'm moving towards oil for its blendability and buildability. I like experimenting with textures and strokes on the canvas, and oil gives a lot more flexibility in terms of building layers and adding thickness to a piece.
Because my pieces are so heavily planned, ruled, measured and scaled, I'm looking to experiment with more free-form and unplanned work this year and that has come with its own challenges and opportunities for growth.
Are your works conveying a message? Is there a narrative or a story to your work?
My work involves motifs of water and the Chahar Bagh, Persian gardens based on the four gardens of Paradise mentioned in the Qur'an, each part divided by flowing water which reflect the heavens and connect the realm of the earth with the celestial. These motifs call upon liminality - the gardens exist in a liminal space between heaven and earth, and so too my work examines ideas of existing in the inbetween - as a gender-diverse person, as a queer person, and as a member of a diaspora. Again, calling back to that idea of uncertainty, rooting myself in the in-between, the inventiveness borne out of necessity when we exist untethered. I don't believe that my work speaks to any intrinsic or sweeping truths about my culture, rather each painting is a tapestry of stories, motifs, people and reflections from a life lived between.
Who and what are some of your greatest influences in both your life and as an artist?
My family is my greatest influence - my mother for her strength and the poetry she's weaved into my life, the culture and tradition she's gifted to me and the love and support she gives me every day. My father is a musician and artist himself, and I've been lucky to grow up in a family where creative practice is encouraged. To have a family who so wholeheartedly supported my creative and research practices and who gave me the security and resources to pursue a career in the arts is something I'm very thankful for.
The queer community here in Melbourne & up in Sydney are a huge source of influence for me. I was lucky enough to grow up in the queer center of Sydney, and I work in a queer-run artist collective, so I'm surrounded by artists whose work I very much admire. Being surrounded by so much colour and celebration in my childhood and adult life has given me a foundation from which to grow and celebrate elements of my own identity.
As an artist, I'm heavily inspired by Persian miniatures, particularly the work of Mir Sayyid Ali, and the way that perspective is manipulated to allow for multiple scenes in the one piece. I'm influenced by the colours and motifs in the works of Iman Raad and particularly the way that he uses motifs to communicate his rejection of cultural ambassadorship.
Do you consider your work of art a creation or a discovery?
Through research, sketching, writing and development I am able to slowly piece together representations of worlds that have existed unperceived. I don't see myself as creating the worlds my paintings depict; similar to the way one slowly uncovers the path of mathematical argument, through trial and error, piecing together different axioms and lemmas, I see my process as one of discovery. With the tools of my pre-painting process, I am able to discover a clearer vision of something that existed prior to and independent of my own awareness.
Dreaming in Colour and Shape15 Jan - 15 Apr 2023Daa Art is proud to present, “Dreaming in Colour and Shape”, an exhibition of fascinating artworks that elicit our senses through pure patterns of form, colour and line. The curated pieces exhibit a variety of artworks that explore the concept of abstract art through calligraphy, geometric shapes, and gestural marks that often have no relation at all to an external visual reality. The exhibited artworks challenge our perception and show us a vivid alternate reality using saturated palettes, ambiguous bodily language and reconfiguration of forms and shapes.