Paper collages melt into sculptural toys in Venus, Ashkan Honarvar’s latest (and amazing!) project.

TWS –Hi Ashkan! It has been some time since your last collaboration with The Weird Show, when you co-curated the amazing show we had in Trondheim in 2016. Can you tell us how you’ve been doing these last years and which are the projects that you’d like to highlight from this latest period of your career?

AH –Hi 🙂  Not much has changed compared to earlier years I guess. I’m always on the lookout for interesting stories or themes to use as an inspiration for my work. I have always been lucky that I manage to find enough inspiring things around me. Collage was the main tool throughout these years. On different occasions, I tried to incorporate 3d scanning into the work and in the end I was really satisfied with the results (Facies Dolorosa 2020). 

TWS –There’s a duality that has been a constant in your work: On the one hand, there are some recurring themes that your work approach; but on the other, there’s a search for new ways and techniques of telling those stories. Can you tell us something about those themes and how you have been switching mediums lately to express your ideas?

AH –Yes, that is correct, I’m always trying to find new ways to express myself in my work. There is always a sense of unrestfulness but also I really can’t stand when my work becomes predictable. I want to create work that looks different from each other but at the same time, they belong in the same universe. 

It’s possible to create “collages” without paper. That was also one of the main reason that I started experimenting with 3d scanning a few years back when I started The Red Forest project. This project was a mixture of drawings, 3d works, and handmade collage, all perfectly mixed into each other. And it was also during this time that I wanted to add 3d printing to the list. I had created these wonderful characters in 3d and they almost screamed out to be printed out in 3d. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out and I kinda left it there. Until….

TWS –Your latest adventure is a really cool one: Limited edition toys. Can you please tell us how did you get into making these sculptural toys?

AH –One year ago I stumbled upon this amazing toymaker from Spain named, Julio Sánchez Roldán and we started chatting about the possibilities of creating a series of art toys. I showed him my designs (Handmade collages) and he was confident that he could translate my work into a clay sculpture. From there on I hired him to help me create my very art toy VENUS.

TWS –Which was the the inspiration behind this series of toys? Tell us the stories and ideas that led you to these creatures?

AH –Like I mentioned before it was back in 2016 when I was working on The Red Forest project that I wanted to create small sculptural works. This project was a semi-autobiographical project about my childhood in Iran during the Iran-Irak war. Back then I wanted to create a fictional family as art toys, a family that was inspired partly by folklore, ghost stories, and also my own childhood. VENUS is the mother figure of the family. In the future, I will release the kids, dad, and some other surprises.

TWS –Was collage somehow involved in the creation process of the first part of the series? How?

AH –Yes, collage was involved from the start till the end. I have made so many collage sketches about this character. It’s hard to describe it but VENUS is a collage. When she got sculpted in clay that collage effect kinda melted away? This melting away of collage was really interesting btw. It didn’t matter how ridiculous my collages were Julio managed to create a figure out of it and the figure turned out “logical” it kinda made sense how it was build up even though the designs were crazy. And of course when you get into sculptural works then you quickly find out that in 3d space there are more sides. At first, I was intimidated by this but quickly I fell in love with the possibilities. The front side of the figure is one collage and the backside a different one. I could now implement different ideas on the front and the back and even the sides. 

TWS –This is the first release of a series? What people should expect in the future?

AH –From the start, I was aiming to create this family. Each family member will be completely different and at the same time part of the bigger picture. VENUS (the mother) will be the biggest character. The next two art toys are the kids and after that, if everything goes well, the dad (which is one of the freakiest ones in my opinion).

TWS –How do you feel about NFTs and non-fungible crypto stuff? Why do you choose to create a mini sculpture over a digital image in the crypto art market?

AH –Haha, to be honest, I haven’t heard from NFT´s since maybe for three weeks now when a friend brought it up. I did some research and quickly found out that it’s not for me. I felt the only people getting rich were the blockchain companies?  I also didn’t get the ridiculous prices for some of the works. Hopefully, it’s just a fluke and it will pass over soon. And maybe I’m from a different generation but I think as long as we are humans we would want art to have more layers than just digital. For it to touch more of our senses than seeing or hearing. 

TWS –Here’s the question that we ask all artists: Which is your own and personal definition of collage?

AH –Alchemy (a seemingly magical process of transformation, creation, or combination.)

TWS –And… How people can get one of your wonderful toys?

AH –VENUS will be on sale through mail order this upcoming weekend on Instagram. Please follow me there for more updates.

Find more about Ashkan Honarvar on his website and Instagram and at Electric Flesh Toys own’s Instagram account.