Who we are in the world can take time to figure out. When we change our living circumstances or the country we call home, it can also transform our view of the world and of ourselves.
Niloodian moved from Tehran, Iran to Germany after completing a Bachelors in Painting at the University of Tehran. She continued her studies at Philipps University of Marburg and completed her Masters in Fine Arts.
"It took a while before I knew why I had started my wandering in the first place. I had wanderlust. I have wanderlust. Something was forcing me to go, something was urging me to get lost."
I spoke with Niloodian in om Art Show Five where she shared more about her external and internal search for belonging and connection.
What Fernwah Means
"I came across the word ‘Fernweh’. In English it may be translated to ‘wanderlust’ which is not entirely correct. ‘Fern’ is distance, ‘weh’ is pain. I felt this pain out of nowhere and wanted it to leave."
That pain came from a lack of acceptance from her family who, wanting the best for her, were not supportive because her art looked so sad. It had a hurtful effect on Niloodian that took time to recover from to a point where she could accept that it was not necessary for them to understand her for her to be able to love them. They didn't understand the work wasn't sad at all but of a deep emotional connection she felt.
“It is not about the sadness. You take something that deeply touches your emotion and that gives me the strength wanting to create something. It comes from something more deep. Understanding the suffering. That gives me the reason.”
Niloodian encourages people to connect deeply with their art and share the personal meaning so that people who see it can also think about those deep and harder things in their lives.
"I love to force people to get uncomfortable."
The Recurring Dream (The Second Story)
The first story is comes from a time where she was reading stories about her home country of Iran, while studying in Germany.
"As I paint, I remember the recurring dream I have. I find myself completely helpless, unable to move any part of my body, unable to see or open my eyes or ask for help. This feeling continues until I can't even breathe and suddenly wake up and am grateful it was just a dream, but now I see this struggle in my paintings."
This story has changed itself and there are different versions of it. It was dream that came to her mind where she saw this mountain of eyes. 'From that night, ‘gosh I want to create and really want to understand what it had to do with the previous works I had been doing. It was me coming back to the painting.’ says Niloodian.
“I want to narrate what I have seen because this is another person seeing maybe the beauty of what I have seen in my mind, but it is definitely brutal. I am actually destroying the fact that I always see myself from inside and outside. I can’t understand which one is my identity. That time I had these dreams all the time, they were bothering me and I realised that I have been in a search for identity knowing who I am. As I left my country of Iran it was just me trying to figure out what I needed to do here to provide the basics of my life and at some point you say ‘ok this identity is getting quite complex’.
The First Story
The First Story is a painting, still in progress and yet to be minted. Niloodian shares a preview of the story with us in om Art Show Five:
“We have this cultural thing in Iran. The first king of this dynasty was brutal in the way he was taking revenge but he had a backstory and problems that he was bullied a lot. As he had the power, he chased another person and when he arrived to the city of Tehran and the people didn’t let him in. It took him three days to get inside the city, and once he had, he ordered 20,000 people to be destroyed by the soldiers’.
"You should circle back and try to find that home or state of mind or identity thing that you wanted to find for yourself."