Everybody's Born an Artist

Article excerpt

The World of United Nations Peoples

"How did you get your hair to do that?" A lady at the guest sign-in table stared at the top of my bead. Zoda, a dark-haired native of Tajikistan, also looked.

"It's a twisted braid", I offered. But I understood their curiosity. The texture and design of Afro-hair allows it to literally stand on end and defy gravity.

Many of the subjects in painter Faridun Negmat-Zoda's artwork do just that. Women, horses and even corncobs levitate. Such pieces in "Art is Alive," the exhibition of Tajik art in the UN south lobby in November 2000, glorify the spiritual aspects of our world.

The Dream fascinated me. It reveals a mysterious event that occurs in the purple-walled bedroom of a young woman. Flowers sit in a bedside vase. With drawn-back covers and fluffed pillows, the bed looks inviting. Yet, the woman in a white nightgown, surrounded by a gold aura, floats in a sleeping position several feet above her bed. Where does the soul go when we sleep?

In Spring Eternal, a smiling mother with cascading brown hair walks on air. Birds flutter about her floral-print dress as she carries her small child. Two pelicans dance on the grass below. Bright-coloured houses, rolling hills of green, blue lakes and flowers in bloom add to the painting's fertile imagery. Even by day our nature soars.

A lazy afternoon farm scene, Other Side of the Fence, depicts two horses--one brown, one white--standing face to face. They hover above the corner of a white-fenced pasture. Their necks entwine. The farmer domesticated their bodies, but not their essence.

"These are spiritual to me." I pointed to the floating portrayals. "Yes, I agree." Zoda smiled. "It's love."

Zoda's art captures the beauty of horizons, desert plains, birds and flowers, as well as the moods of the sky. Purple nights and cloudless blue days appear in his work. In Heat, yellow pigment tints the sky, roads and dwellings, such that nothing escapes the sun's wrath.

"Birds of a feather ..." dye their hair in Tribal County. Exotic birds in fuchsia, kelly green and gold roost on the heads of three young people. One girl wears her fuchsia hair cut short, while the other with kelly green hair keeps hers long and straight. The boy sports a gold mohawk. Faded teepee-like structures form a village behind them.

"These are their favourite birds", Zoda explained. "Each one has a name. They want to look like them. They're free."

Zoda's favourite, Bird in Hand (see photo), features a red room with a canary standing on a canopy bed enclosed with gold bars. He confided that the proverbial Don Quixote quote, "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush", inspired the oil painting. …