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Abol Bahadori Talks About the Creative Process

Abol Bahadori's award-winning piece, Reverie
Abol Bahadori’s award-winning piece, Reverie (hover to zoom)


Artist Abol Bahadori received the Anne Banks Award for Mixed Media/Collage by June “Reflections” juror Carlton Fletcher for his piece, Reverie. Bahadori is no stranger to receiving awards or answering Q&A’s for The Art League’s blog (see our interview with Bahadori in 2015 for his award-winning piece, Paradox). This time, we asked Bahadori to share some insight into Reverie, the concept of reflections, and how his creative process has evolved:

How did Reverie come together?

I started this painting in Beverly Ryan’s course called, “Abstract: Beyond the Tangible.” Ryan provides us with many diverse processes to disengage the analytical mind and delve into doing without too much thinking. One of my favorites ways to work is from a live model with short poses— this is great for action painting. That is what gave birth to this painting. You can spot many human gestures and poses, elements of anatomy, and most importantly, body movements, which I’ve abstracted here. “Studying from life is the foundation, it’s the beginning,” as juror Carlton Fletcher mentioned. Of course, during a fast-intuitive process, my subconscious takes over and that is how most of my paintings come together. Reverie is no exception.

“My own interpretation is that this is somehow about reversing the destruction of the nature by man—a dream or “reverie” we all share.”

How do you think the theme is reflected (no pun intended) through this piece?

I have to admit that I did not start this painting with “Reflections” in mind. Nor did I manipulate it in any way to represent or resemble surface reflections or light effects. The creation of this painting coincided with the announcement of the theme for the June exhibit, and when I read that the concept of reflections also applied to inner reflections, I had an “aha moment.” Once I started working on Reverie, feelings of destruction and a struggle and urge to fix things before it’s too late surfaced. Most of what I saw at that point is still intact. I’ve only altered some texture and colors to enhance those feelings. My own interpretation is that this is somehow about reversing the destruction of the nature by man—a dream or “reverie” we all share.

Having said all that, I try not to talk about my own interpretation of my art. One of the reasons I paint is to evoke curiosity in myself and others to discover things that are not apparent to us, yet occupy our psyche either by concerning or captivating us. I allow the viewer to have their own interpretation of my art and find out what is “beyond the tangible” for them (borrowing from Ryan here). But I also believe in the collective unconscious. I observe this in commonalities in works of artists who haven’t even seen each other’s work. I also hear it in interpretation of my own work by different viewers.

Does it make you happy if the viewer sees what you see in your art?

I am not so sure. In fact, I get more excited when people see something totally different, and then when they describe it or show me I start seeing that too. That makes me happy.


Reverie detail
Reverie detail (hover to zoom)

What is your creative process like?

My overall process hasn’t changed since 2015 (when I did this Q&A). However, taking Lisa Semerad’s Design & Composition class recently has made a significant shift in my final editing touches. Even though I’ve been painting all my life, have been working as a graphic designer and art director for 30 years, and have a BA and MA in art and design, it was so refreshing to take a course in the fundamentals of composition after so many years. It made me realize, to certain extent, that the elements I apply to my design work can also be applied to my paintings. I previously avoided that because I didn’t want my paintings to look “predictable and conventional.” But, now I pay more attention to the cohesiveness and overall composition of my paintings. In other words, originality doesn’t have to come with fighting the basic rules of composition.

What are you working on currently?

I always work on many paintings simultaneously. This keeps me working intuitively – focusing on just one painting makes me shift back to my analytical mind and start fiddling and finessing. By remaining in my intuitive process, I know the minute when a new painting is born – it’s as if I’ve seen it before, dreamed of it, or met it in a past life. That’s when I stop painting and start observing it by putting it on the wall or floor of the living room. I may stare at it for days before I alter it or enhance it. Right now, I have five large paintings at the observation stage that look very exiting—almost scary exciting because every single one of them can be a turning point in my career as an artist. Something really good is going to happen soon. I feel it.

“Originality doesn’t have to come with fighting the basic rules of composition.”

2018 has been a great year for my art so far. It started with acceptance to Washington Project for the Arts‘ 2018 Gala Auction, then I received an Equal Merit Award from The Art League for my submission to the student show, and this is my second Best in Show award by The Art League in three years. So, I would like to thank The Art League and WPA teams for the encouragement through these recognitions. I am also really grateful for having access to a variety of courses at the Art League school to avoid working in isolation. Receiving feedback and collaboration has to be combined with experimentation to keep pushing the envelope. Such acknowledgements and constructive criticisms have played a vital role in my artistic development and this recent piece is a result of that.


See “Reflections” in The Art League gallery through July 1.

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