Kour Pour (b. 1987 Exeter, UK) is a British-Iranian-American artist based in Los Angeles, CA. Kour received a BFA at Otis College of Art and Design. Kour’s work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally including Kavi Gupta, Chicago; Gallery 1957, London; Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Museum, Tokyo; Orlando Museum of Art, Orlando; Dastan’s Basement, Tehran; and more.
THAT: Tell us about your practice
KP: All of the work I do is related to my experience of living between different cultures. I grew up in a mixed-race family and am also an immigrant so I’m interested in the histories and products of cultural exchange. I often combine multiple visual languages to highlight how connected different cultures are and create new visuals that represent the multifaceted lives that many of us share today. I want to make work that opens up a space in the canon for art and artists whose work and identities fall in between the categories currently in place.
Since the images and content in my work are diverse, naturally my studio practice is quite varied. I use different techniques and processes including detailed miniature painting, silkscreen, and hand-carved block printing, we build architectural forms, some ceramics, stamping, sanding…
THAT: We read how you at first thought to go into music production - what made you switch to art? Is music something you draw from creatively in your art?
KP: It was totally by chance. When I moved to LA, I wanted to sign up for recording school but missed the application period so I took an art class at Santa Monica College instead. Soon after that, I was awarded a scholarship to attend art school and started making art in a similar fashion to the way I was making music, by sampling from different sources.
I was interested in American producers like Timbaland who sampled artists like Mayada El Hennawy, the Syrian singer. It was interesting to see Western musicians sampling music from around the world as the foundation for their tracks, so something I originally thought of as American R&B music was actually more complex in its DNA. I’d love to work on music projects in the future to further explore these cultural ties.
THAT: Your practice has been described as an intentional blending of references - mainly taken from Asian diasporic traditions - Chinese paintings, Japanese woodblocks, and Persian carpets (to name a few). What draws you to these in particular, and what draws you into threading these practices together?
KP: I grew up with rugs and started my first mature works using Persian rugs as sources for my paintings. The deeper I looked into rugs and Persian miniature paintings, the more I understood that these works were made with influences from other cultures throughout Asia. So naturally, I started learning more about Indian miniatures or Chinese painting, as elements from those traditions could be found in Persian art. And then when you look at modern art in the West there’s a clear influence and exchange with Asian art, so that’s one of the reasons why it has been important for me to highlight the region.
THAT: As your practice is grounded on the interplay of visual languages from a wide range of cultures and histories, are there any particular revelations in how these different visual traditions relate/connect/influence each other?
KP: One of the main reasons I make my work is to show the connections between art from different cultures and to show that these visual languages are richly layered and diverse. Growing up, the question I heard the most was “Where are you from?” Much like the tiger paintings that I have been working on, whose origins have also been more complex than originally expected, the reality of who I was didn’t align with what people expected just by hearing my name or seeing what I looked like. Much of what we experience in culture – be it art, music, or food – has a multivalent identity and I want to change the way people think about the origins and creation of culture.
THAT: Guest House is an exciting and ambitious project you started up last year. Where did this idea start for you and how has it been going so far?
KP: Guest House is an attempt to create a sense of community and support system: a space for projects and exhibitions that are perhaps missing from the LA landscape and a good excuse to spend more meaningful time with artists. We opened on September 2nd last year with an Iranian/American group show just 2 weeks before the protests in Iran erupted and Guest House became a sort of meeting space for the community. We even hosted an Iranian film night. We also had a group show of artists who incorporate craft practices into their works and a solo exhibition of Alexis Smith’s work that coincided with her retrospective at MCA San Diego.
I’m now opening the space up for others to create projects. During Frieze week, the gallery Dastan’s Basement from Tehran will put on a group show of five Iranian artists and my hope is that more people in LA will become familiar with the art scene in Iran.
THAT: What has been inspiring you lately?
KP: I would say the ideas of well-being, balance, and stillness. We have yoga at the studio with friends once a week, I’m practicing some breathing techniques, and trying to find moments of presence in everyday activities like drinking tea. My work always comes from a personal place so I imagine these themes will pop up in my paintings this year.
THAT: What's next for you?
KP: I’m getting married at the beginning of March and am really looking forward to bringing my partner’s family and culture together with mine!
As far as my studio schedule, I will have a solo booth at Art Dubai with Gallery 1957 in March. This will be my first presentation in Dubai and I’m excited to connect with a new community. I’m also planning for group and solo exhibitions in Hong Kong later this year as well as a solo exhibition in Chicago with Kavi Gupta in 2024.
The Here and There Collective, LLC is a New York limited liability company operating through a fiscal sponsorship with Players Philanthropy Fund, a Maryland charitable trust recognized by the IRS as a tax-exempt public charity under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (Federal Tax ID: 27-6601178). Contributions to The Here and There Collective are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.
© 2021-2022 The Here and There Collective