I have had a passion for painting, a love of nature and a deep commitment to uplifting humanity, since I was a young child. As I got older, I realized that the world was not always a safe place and it has been crucial to my development as an artist to speak to oppression in all of its guises through the language I know best which is creative expression. Colour, line, form and the dream-like state we call reality is translated into the words that speak louder than words and it is in the making of art that healing may be found. Those who gaze upon my work will see what they want to see but perhaps they will share with me a nuance of the exile and forced migration I came to know as a seeker of freedom. I stand in solidarity with the lineage of all those who have been marginalized and oppressed. May my aching heart speak to you as deeply as the world’s anguish over our precarious existence on this planet speaks to me. May all beings find their way home.
My name is Behzad Mohajer and I was born in Iranian Kurdistan in 1973. Painting and drawing from an early age, and inspired by a family member who was a well-respected artist, I was accepted into an Art Academy. My work was soon noted and stood out with a distinct style that was my own.
After graduating from college, I developed my craft more fully and sustained my work by securing a job as a children’s art teacher. It was during the process of witnessing budding young artists that I soon recognized the therapeutic value of the exquisite discipline that I loved. I saw the transformative power that was the synergy between art expression and the children who were my students – primarily those who had survived the refugee experience in war-torn Kurdish territories. Even with limited resources, the healing power of expressive arts was apparent.
Being an artist in a troubled country was not easy- especially finding oneself as a marginalized Kurd. The pressure that attempted to censor my creative actualization was in conflict with that which was so vital to my existence: art is life, art is breathing and it sustained me, transcending any fear of persecution.
In 1996 my entire oeuvre -my life’s work- was destroyed and I was prohibited from expressing myself: completely deprived of my liberty. By 1998, I was still threatened and my life was in danger. I had no choice but to find a way to seek asylum which ended up being a 7 year process of waiting for the United Nations to finally resettle me in Canada. During this time, I managed to create under extraordinarily challenging circumstances. I remained an artist and a cartoonist despite it all.
I had extraordinary adventures and found myself unexpectedly working with both a Turkish and a European caricaturist: collaborating with them on different pieces. I participated in several exhibitions in Turkey and Europe and because of my extensive involvement, I continued to receive threats from those who would seek to silence me.
- 1990, Group exhibition Private Gallery, Bukan, Kurdistan (also known as West Azerbaijan Province, Iran)
- 1990, Group exhibition , Bukan Art Centre, Bukan, Kurdistan
- 1991, Biennial group exhibition Urmia, Azerbaijan, Iran
- 1992, Group exhibition , Saqqez, Kurdistan, (also known as Kurdistan Province, Iran)
- 1993, Group exhibition Mahabad, Kurdistan, (also known as West Azerbaijan Province, Iran)
- 1994, Individual exhibition Bukan, Kurdistan
- 1995, Kurdish Artist Group exhibition Sanandaj, Kurdistan (also known as Kurdistan Province, Iran)
- 1995, Group exhibition Halabja, Kurdistan region of Iraq
- 1996, Individual street exhibition Bukan, Kurdistan
- 1996, Group street exhibition, Bukan, Kurdistan,
- 2000, Group exhibition, Turkey
- 2002, Group cartoon exhibition, Romania
- 2003, Individual caricature exhibition, Turkey
- 2004, Group exhibition, Mehregan Festival, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
- 2005, Individual painting exhibition, Turkey