Edmonton-based artist Saeed Hojjati has brought to Lacombe a collection of vivid, calming and incredibly detailed series of paintings, being called the ‘Moments to Capture’ gallery.
The title is fitting, as many of the paintings seem as if they had come right out of a fairy tale or photography book. Hojjati’s work is very fine and he uses a very simple palette to maintain a sort of signature colour series throughout his work.
‘Moments to Capture’ will officially open on Jan. 30th and will run until Feb. 20th at the Gallery on Main. A reception will be held on Jan. 30th from 5-9 p.m. where Hojjati and his wife Sandra will attend to interact with guests.
“I never thought that I would paint in my life. I thought I might be a lawyer, or a pilot or whatever, but never a painter. If someone told me I would be a painter, I would have just said no. One day, I started sketching just to clear my mind,” Saeed said.
“I was sketching and my wife saw them and was so excited about it. She bought me some paint, and thought that maybe I’d like to add some colour, so I tried. I had never painted in my life. I started working with the colours and it allowed me to show moods and things. I was so excited when I started – I was painting day and night, without sleep. I’d paint until I’d fall.”
Today, Saeed still paints with the ferocity that he did at first, often painting for between 12 and 15 hours a day. He said now that he has tried painting, he hasn’t gone back to sketching because he enjoys the way colours allow him to convey mood and emotion.
Saeed often paints six days a week, producing any number of paintings. He said that the only way to get better was to practice all the time, and he gets lots of practice in.
He mostly takes his inspiration from European architecture, with some influence from North America and Asia. Although he has never been, Saeed said that he loves the look and feel of Italian inspired art. He said he has taken inspiration from Italy, France and such places as Jasper, Spirit Lake and Banff.
“When I’m doing something, I want people to enjoy them. I was painting buildings and then landscapes and some people, too, but I’m not very good at portraits like that. I prefer landscapes because they are relaxing. Sometimes my wife says she misses my buildings and cityscapes, but I love painting landscapes more. I have to enjoy it myself first,” he said.
Saeed grew up in Iran. When he was growing up, there were many more tourists than there presently are. He said he would like to paint more of his homeland, but he feels most people would not recognize or identify with it.
“My wife said that my paintings look like paradise, and I said to her that in Iran, paradise is a garden where people would go to walk and be calm. Each painting gives a message to people. When I see someone drawn to a painting, and staring at it and not looking around – that makes me happy. If I can get them to look at it for a minute or so, it makes me happy and I know it’s a good painting. Not all of them are good, but others are very strong.”
A signature aspect of Saeed’s art is that he only uses a base of five colours, plus white, to create all of the many shades and colours in his paintings. This ensures that his colour scheme is recognizable, and lends to vivid imagery in his art.
Much of the tones in Saeed’s art are very calm, relaxing and inviting. Even his winter-themed paintings are calm and crisp. The details in his work bring his paintings to life and have pleased collectors from around the world.
His wife, Sandra, said a lot of the feedback on her husband’s art is that people feel as though they could get lost in the scenes, and that the art is often likened to images of paradise.
“I am doing this to make people happy in their lives and to give them something to enjoy. Even if it’s a $5 card, I will be so happy they have that. That person was happy enough to buy a $5 painting – anything matters. If they buy a $5,000 painting or a $5 painting, it’s the same to me.”
As a self-taught artist with no experience prior to his wife purchasing some paint for him, Saeed thought it best to hire a mentor as he began to develop large volumes of work. He said he is very grateful for their help and that he seeks criticism from art professionals to help enhance the quality of his work.
Saeed said he is very excited to share his work in Lacombe. He loves seeing people appreciate his work and is humbled when receiving praise. He said he is most excited when he sees a person drawn to a painting and can’t pull themselves away, because then he knows that they have made a connection to it.