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Meet Niree Kodaverdian

Today we’d like to introduce you to Niree Kodaverdian.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
Well, I’ve always known myself to be an artist – at least as far back as I can remember. But it was really during the course of my PhD (let’s not tell my advisors) that I discovered and subsequently began to develop my unique style. A PhD in Economics is hard work, and it takes a lot of time – six years on average – so it was important for me to find a way outside of school to decompress and express myself. During the first two years, I created pencil drawings, mostly photorealistic portraits, which was familiar territory. Then, I switched over to pen drawings for a year or two, again mostly portraits and figurines. After that, I began to experiment. I started with oil and did a portrait, but quickly decided that oil painting wasn’t for me. I switched to acrylics and painted a few more portraits, but soon concluded that realism didn’t allow me to express my unique perspective of the world. I shifted to a more contemporary style, creating a caricature, and then a disembodied female (I was literally transitioning out of portraits). It wasn’t until I physically happened upon Silver Lake Reservoir that I found my true inspiration.

I used to do a lot of programming and research for my thesis at Silver Lake Coffee (it’s important as a PhD student with a windowless office to find a good coffee shop, and SLC has it all!… good: tables, WIFI, parking, temperature, music, food, and espresso). It was a blessing in disguise that the café would close at 5 PM – even though I had much more work to do each day – because I discovered how beautiful Silver Lake Reservoir is around the sunset hours. I started running on the reservoir track after the café’s closing time, and often found myself pausing to capture the beauty of the lake via my phone camera – sticking my phone through the fence (if you’ve ever been there, you know what I’m talking about). I’m not sure how I decided to paint the reservoir (my memory lapses at the most important hour), but alas, I found myself sitting at the easel in my little Koreatown studio doing just that. I knew exactly how I would paint the scene and was delighted by the results. I’ve maintained and further developed the same style since then.

My story came full circle (that’s not to say the story’s ended!) when I did a two-month residency this past winter at Silver Lake Coffee, curated by the Neutra Institute. I showcased 17 pieces there, which included four paintings of Silver Lake Reservoir. By virtue of the exhibit I was asked to participate in a silent auction benefiting Hilltop Nursery, a cooperative pre-school in LA that provides high-quality childcare and early education to a diverse range of working families. It was an awesome feeling to know that my artwork was serving such a good cause; the proceeds from the charity went toward covering the tuition costs of the school’s under-privileged students.

Please tell us about your art.
Though I’ve experimented with different media and styles over the years, I’d say that I’ve found my unique style. I see the world in colors, shapes, and patterns, and that’s how I paint it. Besides my (abstract, impressionist?) geometric style, I tend to use vivid colors and exact lines. One of the characteristics you’ll notice about my pieces is just how meticulously they’re painted, both in respect to the consistency of each color block and the exactness of the edges. I pride myself in the fact that my art looks just as precise from 10 feet away as it does from a couple of inches away. It takes a long time to achieve that level of precision – more specifically, about 50 hours to complete a 18×24 piece, and longer with larger canvas sizes. I paint exclusively on ‘flat’ (cardboard wrapped) canvases – which are not easy to find in large sizes – because I like to be able to frame my work. Another feature of my art you’ll notice is the texture. If you look at my art close up, you’ll see the stitching of the canvas throughout. That takes a long time and many thin layers of paint to achieve.

So far, the subject of my paintings has been landscapes with water. Most of my pieces are of Silver Lake Reservoir, but I have a few of MacArthur Park Lake, one of Sydney Harbor, and I’m currently working on one of Back Bay in Newport. All my pieces are based on pictures that I have taken of the locations – typically around sunset time. Though bodies of water are the main theme in my paintings, the sky is depicted with equally prominent colors and patterns. This balanced focus on sky and water is meant to mirror the equilibrium of nature, as well as the intertwined nature of the world, with reflections from the sun and clouds affecting the appearance of the water. I think that’s why I’m drawn to the sunset hour. The connection of sky and water is magnified during that time, with all the different colors that appear in the sky mirrored in the water.

With my art, I aim to capture the vibrant beauty of the natural world and allow others to see the world through my eyes. I want to take the viewer to that scene, into that moment in time, and show them how beautiful that lake or reservoir is that they pass by every day. My hope is that through viewing my art, the individual feels a deeper connection to the whole and given this feeling, is more mindful about their relationship with the environment.

As an artist, how do you define success and what quality or characteristic do you feel is essential to success as an artist?
To me, there’s a two-pronged definition of success in art. The first is about yourself as an artist. As long as you have the time to create art that makes you happy, that you’re proud of, then you’re successful. The second part is about viewers of your art. If you can make a positive difference, in someone’s life (I know, cliché, right?) then you’re successful. That impact may come as a feeling of joy upon viewing your art, a moment of peaceful reflection, or the inspiration to create something themselves. In the case of my art specifically, I also hope that viewers will feel more connected to nature and in turn, be more conscientious of their ecological footprint.

As an artist, it’s essential to keep in mind that art is very subjective – as the saying goes, there’s no accounting for taste. While others’ appreciation of your work is welcomed, ultimately, you create because that’s what makes you happy and fulfills you. You should be able to look inside for motivation and assess your work based on the satisfaction you feel upon viewing it. And when you truthfully consult your own inner compass, you’ll very likely create art that others too will appreciate.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
Images of my finished art are available on my website (www.nireek.com). I post pictures and videos of my work in progress on my Instagram account (IG: artbyniree), which I think is really cool to see – I know I like to see another artists’ process. I’m looking into opportunities to exhibit some of my work in a gallery setting this fall. As plans come together for that, I’ll be sure to post updates on my Instagram account.

I also have an Etsy account (www.Etsy.com/shop/ArtbyNiree) where you can shop for limited edition (full-size) giclée prints and postcard size prints of my art. The full-size prints are really cool – they’re printed on matte canvas paper and when framed, they’re almost indistinguishable from the real work. You can also contact me directly (artbyniree@gmail.com) to purchase prints at the prices listed on my website.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Scanned and color-matched to originals by Lauren Opach.

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