Behnaz Sohrabian’s paintings have a quality that draws you in, an invitation to let the eyes linger. Like poetry, the first scan from left to right isn’t enough to absorb the meaning. You must read it again and again, each time revealing something new, deeper than before. Behnaz speaks slowly, with intention and makes profound statements that cause me to pause and absorb before moving on to the next thought. Though she’s eloquent and has a melodic way of speaking, she laughs and tells me, “I studied art, not English.”
“When I talk about art, I talk about my life.”
A contemplative and imaginative child, her mother noticed around the age of ten that her art hobby took a turn from after school enrichment to exceptional talent. She enrolled in classes and art has since been a central part, if not the driving force of Behnaz’s life. Behnaz received a Bachelors in Applied Chemistry and Painting and went on to receive a masters in Art Studies in her hometown of Tehran, Iran.
Behnaz arrived in Edmond ten years ago with her younger daughter. Behnaz chose Edmond because of family, but the choice was solidified by the community and environment. While some may find it lacking, Behnaz loves the landscape, the horizon line lies unobstructed. The wide open spaces allow plenty of room for inspiration.
Capturing the Essence of People
Along with her life, Behnaz’s art has evolved since her arrival. “Everything changed when I came here. My environment, my friends. My art began to move from abstract figurism to realism.” Her paintings are not hyper realistic. Unlike a typical portrait, they don’t emulate a photograph. With texture and color, Behnaz’s portraits tell a story. “I try to bring together inspiration and creativity when painting a likeness.” Behnaz spends time with each portrait subject, never painting from a photo. “I need to get to know them, their personality. I draw from the inside out, not just the surface.” Behnaz’s goal is to capture the essence of people.
Behnaz’s reputation and talent preceded her arrival, her brother represented and sold her art across the country. Behnaz arrived in Oklahoma and was easily embraced by the art community. Joy Reed Belt has represented her since. Behnaz greatly enjoys teaching. She feels exceptionally lucky to be able to sell her art. “I tell my students, if you’re in it for the money, there are better ways to make it.” She explains that the skill may be there, but fine painting goes beyond technique. An artist must find their own voice. “You may know all the words, but you don’t know how to form a sentence.” She reminds them that her inspiration, Vincent Van Gogh sold just one painting in his lifetime.
An Addiction Cured by Canvas
“Painting is like an addiction. I crave it. I spend at least 6-8 hours painting most days.” Behnaz sorts through issues and ideas as her brush glides across the canvas. She finds solace in her Edmond studio. When traveling or visiting her older daughter and granddaughter in Dubai, she brings art supplies with her. Painting is more than a profession, it’s an obsession for Behnaz.
Iranian-American painter Behnaz Sohrabian will begin an exhibition at Joy Reed Belt’s gallery in November and will be featured at the Gaylord Pickens Museum beginning in February. Her work can be found at www.behnazsohrabianart.com and updates can be found on social media.