Meet the Winning Artist: Samira Homayouni

The 28th STRABAG Artaward International has just announced the winning artists. The award, which focuses on painting and drawing, is one of the country’s most highly endowed private art prizes. Initially limited to Austrian artists, it expanded in 2009 to include international participants. The prize consists of a main prize and four recognition awards, totalling €35,000, given annually. For 2021-2023, artists from Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Austria were invited to participate. Out of more than 700 applications, five artists were selected as winners.

In 2023, Jósefina Alanko, a Polish-Finnish artist, received the main prize. The recognition awards were given to Peter Cvik from Slovakia, Samira Homayouni from Austria/Iran, Liza Libenko from Czech Republic, and Grzegorz Siembida from Poland.

Eva Kelety

What inspired you to utilize painting as a medium?

For me, painting is very interesting. There is a different depth in it. It talks to you. You can look at it ten thousand times and still find something new in it. If it touches you, it has a meaning that you have experienced something from that feeling or maybe you want to experience, and if it doesn’t touch you, it has a different meaning. It lets my imagination go wherever it wants. I learn from the paintings. Maybe I enjoy observing the paintings as they are in silence and maybe this silence allows me to think and imagine more freely. Also while you are painting your thoughts and imagination go freely many places. There is something special in it. It is just an image without a sound but at the same time many things are happening, I don’t know if it’s due to the colour or what, but it is happening. It connects you to inner side of you. Every type of art is admirable for me, but painting is not only admirable; it somehow gives a special feeling that makes your mind busy. For me, it is also a kind of documentation. It is interesting for me how different people read the painting differently. Even though they are different but something still is in common. It is interesting for me that men can say or show their thoughts or anything important to me with pictures and without words.

How would you describe your work?

If I want to talk about my work from my childhood, I think I almost always painted a human in my paintings. Painting a human in my artwork was always interesting to me. By that time, maybe I didn’t know the exact reason, but now I think they have some characteristics or something that is interesting to me. I don’t really know if they represent me, a part of me, someone already in my life, someone I am looking to be or be with, or even a symbol of something I am searching for or I am representing or I want to talk about them. What I do know is that I am still painting humans.

Can you discuss the inspiration and thought process behind your winning work?

I actually first painted without a concrete preplan. I knew that I was interested in painting humans, but what happened during the painting or after the painting was something that occurred and made me think more about it. For example, when I look at them together, I see similarities in their closed lips. I don’t know if they didn’t want to talk, were not allowed to talk, or simply had nothing to say anymore, waiting for a moment to talk or etc. Also, regarding the two standing women, after it was done, I was thinking about many things: vulnerability, censorship, embarrassment, courage, strength, authenticity, decency, stubbornness, and much more. I even thought that one of them didn’t appear human to me and reminded me of a kind of horse. Talking to them and learning from them is interesting to me. I actually learn a lot from them. I don’t like to talk about my paintings and explain them because I think if the viewer reads the painting from my thoughts, they cannot completely freely think about them. I really like to listen to viewers and talk to them. 

What do you hope to communicate to an audience with your work?

I like documentary films. And I like films that do not give me a concrete solution, direction, or ending, but rather ones that, in the end, allow me to imagine freely and think in various ways of ending or maybe no ending. I don’t know. I like the one which gives me insights. The one that adds me more. Even a moment of experience. I hope that my paintings are also open, allowing the audience to communicate freely with them. I hope they could get connected and interpret what they see in the paintings.

Have you experimented with other mediums?

I don’t understand the question correctly, you mean photography, music, films, or do you mean different painting techniques?I have painted with different materials like oil, pencil color,..  and also print-making and drawing…I have made one small sculpture, but I would say I am more interested in painting. I enjoy watching photos rather than taking them. I take photos just because I like to look at them later many times. When it comes to photography, I focus more on the results rather than the act of taking the photo itself. But the painting itself is very interesting for me. I mean not only the results but also the painting itself. As for music, yes, I have tried it. It is very interesting, but it’s not really for me. Regarding films, I absolutely love watching good films, also documentary films, but I have not made any films myself.

Can you talk about your biggest learning experience during the process of creating your work?

My biggest experience was how really a painting could be a mirror that shows you a truth or reflects something in it that you were not aware of in your consciousness.

Can you discuss your biggest success since starting your artistic journey?

I think when I was younger, it was interesting for me to paint and then watch and enjoy the paintings. I think over time, I learned not only to express whether I liked or disliked a painting, but I also learned to think about the things behind feeling connected or disconnected to the painting.

What is your dream project or piece you hope to accomplish?

That I go step by step in the way I like and experience each step as much as I like.

As a winner, do you have any advice for artists who want to submit to awards, competitions, residencies, etc.?

Not really

Lastly, I like to ask everyone what advice they would give to their fellow artists, what is your advice?

Maybe to observe

If we were to rummage around in your studio, what art supplies would we find and what key colours would we see on your palette?

It depends on which medium I am painting with, but mainly I use oil or analogue photochemical materials and the color blue.

How did you feel when you heard that you were selected for the Strabag Art Awards?

Mixture of emotions

Leave a Reply

Powered by

%d bloggers like this: