Interview with Vida Khadem on her latest work – Dance of Life

Vida KhademVida Khadem is a painter, writer and film maker, whom we have interviewed before. She joins us again to talk about her latest work “Dance of Life”, which is a unique collection that she has painted using just vegetables, herbs and fruits. You can find our more about Vida through her website, as well as to purchase prints of this latest work.

ExtraImaginary: Welcome back Vida. Wow! Dance of Life is an amazing concept. How did you come up with it?

Vida Khadem - Dance of Life

Vida: I woke up one day and I was angry. And for no apparent reason that I could pin point. So I did what I always do when I am in distress. I picked up my paints and some empty bottles and cans and decided to go into the woods.

I wanted to throw paint from different distances to study the movement of liquid as it travels from near and far before it hits the surface of the panel of wood.

It was a cold winter day. And snow was still on the ground. After some time and throwing paint with different objects, bottles, cans, and cups and glass, I got tired and drove back home to have something eat.

As I was peeling an orange … the thought crossed my head … I wonder what would happen if I dip the orange in the paint and throw it on the panel. So I did. And to my surprise the marks were much more interesting.

Next I threw an apple, grapes, and parsley, and cabbage, and mint, and so I was throwing all kinds of vegetables and herbs and fruits from close and far. And the result was astonishing.

So in all honesty, it was just an accident.

ExtraImaginary: What does this collection of art represent and what is the inspiration behind it?

Vida Khadem - Dance of LifeVida Khadem - Dance of Life

Vida: In the beginning I thought I was studying the movement of paint. So I spent a lot of time experimenting with different lines and shades, and cutting each vegetable in different ways to see what kind of affect they create.

Then one day, I saw a picture of my late father lying on the floor. It was a picture of him as a young man. One that he liked. And I thought, well I wonder if I should make an attempt to paint it with this new technique. It was very challenging because I would be painting his portrait, for the first time using no brush. So I was petrified of even making the attempt.

So on this day, I woke up, and went grocery shopping. I bought all the ingredients that dad loved. I divided the ingredients in two halves. One half I used to make a dish and the other I used to make the portrait.

Vida Khadem - Dance of LifeAnd all the while, I was hearing his voice in my head. After many days of working feverishly without eating or sleeping the portrait was finished. And it was then that I realized that I am trying to come to terms with the loss of my father. The fact that he was gone and nothing could bring a dead man back. Death is finite. Where do people go when they pass away?, and what does it all mean … and so many other questions were boiling in my chest. Thus came this collection.

ExtraImaginary: This collection is dedicated to the memory of your Dad. Tell us about him and how his memory has influenced the works in this collection.

Vida: My father and I were best friends. We talked about everything. He loved and adored me. We did have our differences. And at times did not agree on all things. Especially when it came to my choice of career. But it took me a while to realize that he meant well.

ExtraImaginary: How difficult was it to paint with vegetables, herbs and fruits? Was there a method of choosing which to use? What was the learning curve like?

Vida: It was extremely difficult in the beginning. Because my hands were not used to it. It was hard to get certain shapes and lines. But as I continued working over many months I got better at it. To the point, where my final work was the portrait of Dad.

ExtraImaginary: How different was it to paint without a brush? Was it easier or harder? Did you have to use or develop different techniques to get the effects you needed?

Vida Khadem - Dance of LifeVida: Using vegetables and fruits and fresh herbs instead of brush was extremely challenging. But it was also very exciting, and new and unique. Because the effects one gets is completely different than painting with a brush. I also got so excited about the fact that I don’t have to pay exuberant amounts of money to get the right brush. I just go to grocery shop, buy vegetables and come home and paint.

And I thought, this would be great way to paint, in countries where there are artists that want to paint but can’t afford to buy brushes. It is really freeing. I love working this way.

ExtraImaginary: How many fruits, herbs and vegetables have gone into the making of Dance of Life?

Vida Khadem - Dance of LifeVida: Lots. I started with fruits: orange and apple, grapes, strawberries, then moved to herbs like fresh parsley, mint, and leafy vegetables like pak choy, lettuce, and then to mushrooms, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, onion, celery, and many more.

ExtraImaginary: Do you have a favorite fruit, herb or vegetable to paint with?

Vida: My favorites so far are parsley, mint, orange, potatoes, carrots and mushrooms.

ExtraImaginary: How long have you worked on this collection?

Vida: Many thoughts have come together in this collection, things I have been researching for the last three years about the nature of soil, body and things that grow from soil. How it is all connected to the human body which has fascinated me.

ExtraImaginary: Is there anything else you would like to tell us that we haven’t covered?

Vida: Thank you for having me back on ExtraImaginary.

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