Modern Art in Afghanistan - Interview with emerging artist Qasem Foushanji

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Can you tell me about little bit about yourself? Age? Where you grew up and about heritage stuff

I am 25 years old. I grew up in Iran, lived there for almost 18 years.

How did it feel to come back to Afghanistan?

My father lived in Iran for a long time and he wanted to come back to Afghanistan. I was the first family member who came to Afghanistan (2004) and it was my first time I visited the country. It was a bit weird but it was good I came back to my origin.

What inspires you artistically and what type of artistic work do you do?

The concept of darkness and the fact that human-beings usually ignore the dark aspects of life. It’s natural. But at some point, reflecting the dark issues can bring out the solutions.

I guess you are more into modern art. How different is it from the classical Afghan art?

Modern Art in general is deeper than Classical. It’s more related to concepts. The Classical Afghan art has been repeated too much and it has become a bit cliché. Everywhere you go, there are pictures of Buzkeshi, Atan, and so. There should be something different and people need to know what is going on. Modern Art can be a good way communicating with people, and in a country like Afghanistan where a people-oriented culture is almost missing Modern Art (whether it’s paintings, sculpture, cinema, or music) can be very effectual.

 Views and opinions of Afghans on your work?

Modern Art is often very strange to Afghan eyes. Some of them look at it as nonsense and I don’t blame them. Most of the people are somehow brainwashed by war. But also, some of them have got closer to new forms of arts. Sometimes at exhibitions I can see some youth looking at a piece (not only mine) for few minutes and that is the beauty of it that they are trying to analyze something new.

Views and opinions of Afghans?

War dragged this country into minus, lower than zero. There are a lot of things to be made and developed. We are somehow a bit passed zero now. But it makes me happy when I see people are changing and are getting softer and more flexible when facing a positive change. I can see change in them. It’s growing. And if no disaster happens again, this country will be bright in the future. It’s slow but it’s going.

How did you learn your artform?

My art side came all from within. I never went to an academy or the like for arts, except for some course of Realism painting I attended when I was 6 or 7 years old. It was derived out of the emotions and feelings which were related to Metal and Rock music. It started with some sort of Gothic illustrations more linked to the theme of weakness and the failure of human body. It was later more developed and turned into a more abstract way. I currently do Abstract and Abstract Expressionism paintings as well as Mixed Media artworks.

What else do you do?

I work in some sort of art-related projects. I design logos. I am also a member of Afghanistan’s first Metal band “District Unknown”. I am the bassist and vocalist of the bad.

What projects / artwork are you working on?

I have been recently working more on Mixed Media arts which includes footages taken by me, abstract/experimental sounds made by myself. I am getting more into that side. I am also painting as well, but I have started working on paintings which are much bigger in size than my older works. Soon, I will have my second solo exhibition in Kabul which will feature an entirely new atmosphere by my works. I am also working to have a solo exhibition outside Afghanistan.

Real Illusions I - The Presence of the Society

Real Illusions I - The Presence of the Society

20 years

20 years



Name index: 
Jake Simkin
Qasem Foushanji