Based in Fuveau, France
Athena's dynamic animal sculptures may look simple and minimalistic, but they are an ode to her ancient heritage of Iranian artistic expression and animal imagery, carried on by her into modern day
AR: Please, tell us a bit more about yourself. What brought you into art?
A: My father, Sharif Jahantigh, was a painter and calligrapher. I’ve always been fascinated by his art and his power to create. It was only at university that I dared to follow the same path as him.
In Iran, I first studied applied art, where I tried different workshops; wood, metal but also ceramic etc. I finally settled on clay modeling, and then I came to France to study visual arts in Paris, while pursue to make sculpture at the same time.
Since 2010 I have lived and worked in the south of France, I mainly make animal sculptures in ceramic or bronze.
AR: What inspires you the most?
A: I have taken different paths in several directions over the past 26 years. I have taken nature, artistic movements or certain artists as models. I became interested in social and cultural issues when I worked on the body in fragments.
However, animals as subject of exploration have been a constant presence in my work, and took shape during my graduate thesis in Iran. I researched the drawings on the pottery and the clay or marble figurines found in the ancient city Shahr-e-Soukhteh literally "burnt city", dating to 3200 B.C. I was drawn towards the animal imagery which is a frequent feature.
This kind of ancient cities is common in Iran, and extraordinary animal shapes and designs can be found there. I can say that the work of prehistoric art masters was one of my first sources of inspiration.
AR: Do you have any specific rituals while working(creating)?
A: I don't know if I really have rituals but maybe some habits. For example, before starting my work, especially for new projects, I like to tidy up my studio, so that nothing bothers me or distracts me.
AR: What would you recommend to someone who's new to art (whether artist or just an admirer), what to begin with?
A: I think that whatever route somebody is thinking of taking, it can only be effective if that person believes in what they are doing and follows their intuition with enthusiasm and perseverance. Understanding other people’s journeys can shorten the path to becoming an artist, but it doesn’t replace personal experience.
AR: Your top 3 adjectives related to art?
A: The works that have the most profound effect those, which provoke emotion, make you reflect and ultimately produce pleasure when you look at them.
AR: The best angle to look at art is from ...?
A: From a technical perspective, it depends on the work, the technique and the size.
From a critical perspective, it is the viewers.
AR: The perfect phrase to start any conversation about art is: ...?
A: This is a very general question, which makes it difficult to answer. It depends on the situation, is it a real or virtual the exhibition space? Is art present? Are you an exhibitor, a spectator or a critic? Perhaps the easiest and broadest question to ask is about the opinion or feeling of your interlocutor.
AR: Must-read books to help us talk about art (or do we even need them)?
A: This question is also very general. Taking into account different techniques of expression and different styles, the field remains very vast. It depends on whether you are looking to make art or simply experience it, reading about it, watching or listening to documentaries about it, or going to exhibition, are all equally enriching ways to understand it better.
AR: If you could change one thing in the art world - what would it be?
A: I would like to see children have more opportunities to make and learn about art from an early age, not just limit it to a single hour per week or one field of study. I’d like for it to be a choice.
AR: Please, share your favorite quote (not necessarily related to art).
A: "To want is to be able to…"