An Afghani artist’s paintings about life in his native land – from Kabul’s busy bazaars to Afghanistan’s picturesque mountain ranges – will headline the First Friday, Aug. 5, opening at the Tube Factory artspace.
Qahar Behzad’s works, The Colors of Afghanistan, will be on display through Aug. 21 in the Guichelaar Gallery. The exhibit will share the First Friday event with two other openings:
* Through Aug. 21 in Listen Hear: A Jungle, Interrupted, works by CA Davis.
* Through Sept. 18 in the Tube Factory artspace: Carlie Foreman’s Full Disclosure.
The First Friday reception will run from 6 to 10 p.m. The galleries are also open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
The Colors of Afghanistan is a collection of works by Behzad created between the years 2011-2022 in Afghanistan and the U.S. Behzad grew up in Kabul in a family of book publishers, surrounded by centuries-old historical texts and rare books of poetry in his father’s libraries and bookstores. Behzad remembers reading traditional Afghan storybooks his father published that directly influence the art he creates.
Behzad paints with depth and expressive color, drawing inspiration from one of his favorite Western painters, Claude Monet. Through these influences, Behzad expresses his take on the rich and storied culture of his country.
Behzad’s journey as an artist began in the mid-1990s, when he was six years old. The Taliban had first emerged in his home country, and Behzad’s family found safety in Pakistan. Not able to attend school yet, he spent his days drawing.
A few years later, his family was able to resume life in their home country, and Behzad began to explore painting in oil and watercolor. After the establishment of U.S. military base Camp Eggers in Kabul, Behzad became the first artist to display and sell artworks there. From 2005 to 2015, he created daily in his studio on base, producing thousands of drawings, oil paintings and watercolors. Behzad’s studio became a haven of peace amid an otherwise hectic atmosphere. Soldiers and other military personnel could drop in for tea, to observe Behzad’s creative process, commission a painting, or take a lesson with the artist.
One of the paintings featured in this exhibition, Behzad Bookstore and Afghan Burqas was originally created by Behzad in 2009. In this piece, a group of women dressed in traditional burqas read from shelves of books in his father’s shop in Kabul. The piece celebrates the new freedoms available to women after the first Taliban regime ended, when they could leave their homes, pursue education and learn their rights. In 2021, these freedoms were again taken away. The Taliban is again denying the education and enlightenment of Afghan people, and Behzad Bookstore has closed due to their threats. Behzad recreated this painting in 2022 to highlight this tragic regression – and to remember better times in his country.
Behzad’s works have gained international recognition. Some of these works include portraits of Queen Elizabeth ll commissioned by the British Ambassador to Afghanistan, former US President George W. Bush, for which Behzad received a personal letter of appreciation, and former US President Barack Obama, commissioned by his election campaign staff. The U.S. Navy also commissioned a large canvas mural featuring a fleet of ships stationed in San Diego, California. Behzad has completed many paintings for U.S diplomats and advisors, NATO representatives, and the government of Afghanistan.
Qahar Behzad Bio
Behzad is now based in Indianapolis, where he works as a legal assistant for Exodus Refugee Immigration. He earned a degree in law and political science from Rana University in Kabul in 2020.
Behzad was the first artist to display and sell his paintings at Camp Eggers, a U.S. military base in Kabul. From 2005 to 2018, he operated painting studios there, as well as at other military faciloities where he created artworks for soldiers and military personnel.
When Kabul fell to the Taliban in August 2021, Behzad was working as an artist in Kabul. Amidst the chaos and violent takeover, former commanding U.S. officials, many of whom served in the Indiana National Guard, wrote letters of support to bring him to safety in the U.S. Behzad evacuated to Camp Atterbury, where he volunteered as an interpreter for four months.
Behzad is committed to helping other refugees like himself. He is working to bring the rest of his family to safety in the US, and advocating for the evacuation of other Afghans who still live under threat of the Taliban every day.
At LISTEN HEAR, CA Davis reflects on what the jungles of Vietnam sounded like before, during and after the war from 1965 to 1995? A Jungle, Interrupted is an experimental audio documentary and timelapse that features key moments—reimagined and repurposed through sound—over roughly 30 years before, during and after the Vietnam War. Davis asks: what does the deep rumble of the free market sound like and how did it overtake the otherwise undisturbed Vietnamese rainforests? What would propel a decade of extreme, confused violence, and was it worth the bloodshed?
In his first solo exhibit, Davis creates a room-shaking, 15-minute surround sound piece that traces the tragic and deadly ironies, lies, and realities comprising the Vietnam War. This, staged among ephemera and original illustrations by Chicago-based visual artist Keith Couture, are laid bare for us to sit with and listen through in hopes that we may gain a clearer understanding of the relationship between capitalism and the endless conflicts that occur for or against its profits.
Davis is a Black-Filipino-Italian-American multimodal storyteller and documentarian from Carmel, currently completing his graduate degree at Northwestern University. His most recent documentary, Inhuman Figures: Robots, Clones, and Aliens, was released by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, and he is also the creator and host of a LATTO Thought, an audio documentary series exploring the histories and social developments of interracial life central to the United States. His work has been featured by TriQuarterly Magazine, Filmscalpel, and RØDE Microphones. See more of CA’s work at CADavis.me.
Sylver Wallace is guest curator for the exhibition, which is made possible by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.
Foreman’s Full Disclosure, composed of mixed media works, find inspiration in collective memory and how it’s intertwined with the natural world. Foreman looks at the relationship between symbolism in ancient sites, churches and secret societies. She also explores modern-day meme culture in relation to familiar patterns of sacred geometry and environmental symbols. She views the research, process, and creation of this work as a vehicle for spiritual transformation.
Foreman said, “A built network of beliefs becomes ingrained in the DNA of the land, a part of the vibrational fingerprint of the space and its history of culture, conflict, displacement, etc. Energetically, I seek connection and translation of ancestral knowledge to honor the work of those who came before us and to build upon it with the mission of progressing toward a safe and equitable environment.”
In this, her second solo exhibit, Foreman uses color, video, projection mapping and interactive video to reflect on how the electromagnetic light spectrum and the vibration of sound create a network of living substances.“When you choose love, you’re lifted,” she said. “Full Disclosure works to visualize a future where we feel a wholesome connection to the space around us — within, on earth and beyond. I hope we can start conversations about how our world is connected — energetically and geometrically. And talk about how we can feel empathy and responsibility for collective growth. Each of us is a pillar in the bridge that takes us from our past to our future. We’re a bridge to a different world. We got here just in time!”
Foreman, who serves on the Board of Directors of the Garfield Park Neighbors Association, studied sculpture at Herron School of Art and Design and is director of operations for Big Car Collaborative. With interest in work that focuses on vibration and connection, Foreman works in fine arts, public art and place-based activation. Since July of 2018, Foreman has hosted Good Vibrations, an electronic radio show, on 99.1 WQRT LP Indianapolis.
This exhibition is made possible by The Arts Council of Indianapolis, The City of Indianapolis, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and The Allen Whitehill Clowes Foundation.
ARTWORK ABOVE: Qahar Behzad paints about life in his native land in The Colors of Afghanistan, to be on display in the Tube Factory artspace beginning Friday, Aug. 5.