Raoof Haghighi: Delving Deeply into the Human Psyche Through Surrealism

Raoof Haghighi: Delving Deeply into the Human Psyche Through Surrealism
Ho Ho Ho Image of courtesy of the artist © Raoof Haghighi

The power of artists lies in their ability to explore and express the subconscious mind through imaginative and often bizarre imagery. Raoof Haghighi, a self-taught, multidisciplinary Iranian artist, epitomizes this ability. Coming from a family of eight artists and deeply influenced by the rich history of Persian poetry and tradition, Haghighi is renowned for his intricately detailed paintings, primarily in oil paint on canvas.

However, what truly captures your attention are his monochromatic, striking, pencil-drawn works that articulate his surrealist exploration of the human psyche. The finesse of Haghigi’s pencil work is evident in the smooth transition of tones, and the gradations of graphite used to delineate form and texture bring his vivid critiques to life.

Raoof Haghighi: Delving Deeply into the Human Psyche Through Surrealism
Raoof Haghighi
Image of courtesy of the artist
© Raoof Haghighi

My exploration of societal ideas, attitudes, fears, conflicts, incompatibilities, and unwritten rules stems from a deep observation of the human condition

Raoof Haghighi

Among Haghighi‘s creations, his pencil drawings are notably impactful. His diverse collection includes the surreal Adam and Eve series, symbolizing his advocacy for women’s freedom in Iran, and works like “Public Figure #Influencer” and “Adam & Eve’s Child.” At first glance, “Adam & Eve’s Child” presents a peaceful, nature-filled scene, with trees rendered in painstaking detail. Yet, upon closer examination, the tranquillity is disrupted by an ominous, stern-faced central figure – Baby Hitler, surrounded by half-eaten apples, introducing a sense of unease to the otherwise serene setting.

Male Brain Anatomy,” another of Haghighi’s surreal connotations, demonstrates his engagement with deep, uncomfortable truths. This piece reflects men’s propensity to gravitate towards provocative subjects. Instead of a typical brain, it displays a collection of bulbous shapes within the skull, which is highly ironic yet somehow true in today’s societal and social media landscape.

Haghighi’s upcoming exhibition at London’s A Gallery, titled ‘Beyond Realms of Imagination,’ explores his interactions with social media, his period of disconnection from it, and his journey through contemplative meditation. Haghighi has exhibited globally, earning many accolades and awards, including exhibiting at the National Portrait Gallery and winning the Gold Memorial Bowl at the Royal Society of Miniature Painters Award.

Haghighi blends contemporary ideas with traditional techniques, challenging the dominant attitudes, fears, conflicts, incompatibilities, and unspoken norms that shape our environments and behaviours. His portraits are exquisite and masterfully capture the countenance of his subjects, which radiates vibrancy and depth. His surrealist drawings are second to none, truly captivating and provoking and have become viral sensations across social media. We had the privilege of speaking with Haghighi before his upcoming exhibition, gaining insight into his practice, inspiration and more.

Hi Raoof, could you share with us your journey and how you entered the realm of arts, as well as any moments or influences that inspired you to pursue a career as an artist?

Raoof Haghighi: I was born into an artistic family, where my first influence was my dad. Growing up surrounded by art, with all my siblings also involved in artistic pursuits, I knew from an early age that I wanted to become an artist.

Ho Ho Ho
Graphite on paper 23×30 cm
Image of courtesy of the artist
© Raoof Haghighi
As a self-taught artist whose practice spans painting and drawing, you explore societal ideas, attitudes, fears, conflicts, incompatibilities, and unwritten rules. Can you delve deeper into your inspiration and the significance of these themes in your work?

Raoof Haghighi: As a self-taught artist, my exploration of societal ideas, attitudes, fears, conflicts, incompatibilities, and unwritten rules stems from a deep observation of the human condition and the world around me. These themes are significant in my work because they reflect the complexities of human interaction and the struggles we face in navigating societal norms and expectations. By delving into these topics, I aim to provoke thought, challenge perspectives, and initiate conversations about the intricacies of our collective experience.

Through painting and drawing, I seek to capture the essence of these themes and evoke emotional responses from viewers, encouraging them to reflect on their own beliefs and experiences. Ultimately, my inspiration lies in the exploration of the human psyche and the desire to create art that resonates with the complexities of life.

Raoof Haghighi: Delving Deeply into the Human Psyche Through Surrealism
“Male Brain Anatomy”, Pencil on paper, 21 x 27 cm, 2023 Image of courtesy of the artist
© Raoof Haghighi
How have your deep roots in Persian culture and upbringing in a family of artists influenced your practice, especially in terms of recurring themes or techniques? How do you navigate the intersection between the modern digital world and the rich history of Persian art and poetry that inspires you?

Raoof Haghighi: My Persian heritage and upbringing in an artistic family deeply influence my work, with recurring themes of love, longing, and truth reflecting my cultural roots. I blend traditional Persian art techniques like miniature painting with contemporary approaches, bridging the gap between past and present. While embracing the digital world to reach a broader audience, I remain grounded in the rich history of Persian art and poetry that inspires me, creating a dynamic fusion of tradition and modernity in my practice.

Building on that, you’ve said, ‘Painting is like breathing for me.’ Could you elaborate on this and its significance to your artistic practice?

Raoof Haghighi: Describing painting as “like breathing for me” highlights the intrinsic connection between my art and my existence. Just as breathing is essential for sustaining life, painting is vital for nourishing my soul and expressing my innermost thoughts and emotions. This comparison underscores the fundamental role that art plays in shaping my identity and fulfilling my creative instincts.

Raoof Haghighi: Delving Deeply into the Human Psyche Through Surrealism
Public Figure #influencer
Image of courtesy of the artist
© Raoof Haghighi
Your upcoming exhibition, ‘Beyond Realms of Imagination’ at London’s A Gallery, reflects on your relationship with social media and time spent in reflective meditation. What can you tell us about the concept, the title’s significance, and what visitors can expect?

Raoof Haghighi:Beyond Realms of Imagination‘ invites visitors on a captivating journey of discovery and self-exploration. Through this fusion of the real and the surreal, the exhibition aims to transcend the confines of ordinary experience and ignite the imagination of all who enter its enchanting realm.

‘Beyond Realms of Imagination,’ there’s a stark contrast between the reception of your labour-intensive oil paintings and your quick TikTok animations. What are you aiming to convey about contemporary audiences’ attention spans and their impact on art valuation?

Raoof Haghighi: In ‘Beyond Realms of Imagination,’ contrasting labour-intensive oil paintings with quick TikTok animations reflects contemporary audiences’ fleeting attention spans and their influence on art valuation. This juxtaposition prompts reflection on the evolving dynamics of art consumption in the digital age and invites dialogue about the intersection of technology, creativity, and human connection.

Raoof Haghighi: Delving Deeply into the Human Psyche Through Surrealism
“Eve & Adam”, “Adam & Eve”, “Eve & Eve”, Pencil on paper, 21 x 27 cm each
Image of courtesy of the artist
© Raoof Haghighi
Having had your works go viral on social media, how do you reconcile their online popularity with their intrinsic artistic value? Do you see social media metrics as a reliable indicator of an artwork’s significance?

Raoof Haghighi: Having experienced the virality of my works on social media, I navigate the balance between their online popularity and intrinsic artistic value by recognizing the distinct realms they inhabit. While social media metrics can indicate reach and engagement, I view them as just one aspect of assessing an artwork’s significance.

Artistic value transcends online popularity and encompasses factors such as creativity, originality, emotional impact, and cultural relevance. While social media metrics can provide insights into audience reception, they don’t necessarily equate to enduring artistic merit. Instead, I see the online platform as a means to amplify exposure and initiate dialogue about my work. It’s essential to maintain integrity and authenticity in artistic expression while leveraging social media as a tool for connection and visibility. Ultimately, while social media metrics can offer valuable feedback, I prioritize staying true to my artistic vision and creating work that resonates deeply, both online and offline.

Considering the artistic process is often non-linear and cyclical, how do you balance and sustain your creative drive amidst a distracting world and external influences?

Raoof Haghighi: To balance and sustain my creative drive amidst distractions and external influences, I establish a dedicated creative space, cultivate habits like meditation and journaling for introspection, seek inspiration from diverse sources, and embrace the cyclical nature of the artistic process.

Raoof Haghighi: Delving Deeply into the Human Psyche Through Surrealism
Adam & Eve’s Child
Pencil on paper, 21 x 27 cm
Image of courtesy of the artist
© Raoof Haghighi
Are there any upcoming projects or collaborations you’re excited about? What new themes or methods are you looking to explore?

Raoof Haghighi: I’m constantly excited about new projects and collaborations, finding inspiration in exploring themes like technology, identity, and social issues. Every day brings fresh ideas, driving me to experiment with innovative techniques and mediums.

Lastly, what does art mean to you?

Raoof Haghighi: Art, like breathing, is essential to me. It’s a means of connecting, expressing, and exploring both the inner and outer worlds. It embodies my passion, creativity, and journey of self-discovery, enriching every aspect of my life.

View more of Raoof’s work here

Raoof Haghighi: ​Beyond Realms of Imagination opens on the 18th of April until the 28th of April, 2024 at A Gallery

©2024 Raoof Haghighi

My Cart Close (×)

Your cart is empty
Browse Shop
PERRIER® + STARCK® Limited Edition