(Interview in englischer Sprache) Elnara, imagine you would welcome us in your studio or home. Where do we talk together, where do we meet you? Welcome to my studio! It’s like entering my mind: In central Baku you enter a classic 19 century building with high ceilings, come up to the last floor, enter the pink door with my signature spray painted shapes on it. The walls are stripped bare, the ceilings are ornate and still have their historical hand painted design. The first abstract painting greets you in the corridor – as a representation of my soul – next to a salvaged piano. Then, you enter the main room where I work on my latest 7 meter painting – it’s lit up by spotlights and invites you to explore every detail. On the left is my organized storage room with all my materials, research and small works in progress. On the right you enter another large room with my other large works on display – the portals into limitless worlds that reflect in mirrors. You are welcome to sit down on the couch, drink some tea with traditional azeri sweets and observe all the bright paintings around you.

DEEDS WORLD - Elnara Nasirli - Husein Jalil and styled by Fidan Sadig

Portrait Elnara Nasirli. Husein Jalil and styled by Fidan Sadig (MMMDN) © Elnara Nasirli

Perhaps we are sitting in your favourite place? Anywhere where there is a couch and good music. You were born in 1987 in Baku, Azerbaijan. What stations and people have particularly shaped you in your life so far? Apart from Azerbaijan, I have lived in India, the United States, France and the United Kingdom. I am lucky to have had such opportunities to study and work in different fields and cities. It has given me the depth and experience necessary for my work.

DEEDS WORLD - Portrait Elnara Nasirli 2

Portrait Elnara Nasirli. Foto: Adil Yusifov © Elnara Nasirli

Which writers do you find exciting at the moment and which books can be found on your bookshelf?  I get inspired by a wide variety of reading from autobiographies, psychology to manga. Which books have influenced or shaped you?  Grapefruit by Yoko Ono, Seven Dada Manifestos and Lampisteries by Tristan Tzara, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson, A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking.

DEEDS WORLD - Portrait Elnara Nasirli

Portrait Elnara Nasirli. Foto: Adil Yusifov © Elnara Nasirli

What are you currently reading and where does the book lie at hand?  Free Play by Stephen Nachmanovitch, on my bedside table. What music do you listen to and when? I have been exploring live jazz lately and it has inspired so many of my paintings. Music, water and my art materials are all I need to get into the flow. Music transports me to a state where I can freely express my movement in my art instantly. I enjoy psychedelic rock from the 1960s, instrumental jazz, opera, particularly Puccini, and a whole variety of soul, funk and electronic music. If you were to cook something for us, what would it be? Traditional azeri breakfast: Pomidor yumurta. What is your favourite food? Nuts, dried fruit and dark chocolate. What do you think about breakfast? Best meal of the day. What kind of sport or compensation do you do for your artistic work? I do functional training and stretching every day. Do you have any special passions (hobbies) that you are passionate about, and if so, which ones? Capoeira, latin dancing, riding a motorbike.

DEEDS WORLD - image 30-05-23 - Elnara Nasirli

Portrait Elnara Nasirli. Husein Jalil and styled by Fidan Sadig (MMMDN) © Elnara Nasirli

What personality trait particularly defines you? Expressive energy. Do you have a concern that you would like to share with us? Or an answer to a question (not asked by us) that currently moves you?  We all speak different languages but we can all communicate in one form of art or another. I want to create a unified language of art.


We would like to briefly introduce your artistic career. You have a biotechnological background. Please tell us more about it and about the stages in your artistic career.

I have painted all my life, however, my latest degree was an Msc in Environmental Technology at Imperial College in London. My biggest inspiration at the moment comes from biotechnology and mixed media. I create limitless  biomorphic worlds through the use of unconventional materials in painting, sculpture,  collage and installation. This visual language based on biomorphic shapes comes from the Greek words ‘bios’, meaning life, and ‘morphe’, meaning form.

A big part of my work are tondi, circular pieces, as the circle is a continuous line with no beginning, end, corners or divisions. The circle represents the life-force or spirit that keeps our reality in motion,  eternal rebirth. I make a great emphasis on the process of art, and the concepts of change and transience, in particular in the Mycelium installation (2022) which enveloped the room into a cocoon over time.

My large canvas series represent skins I shed to capture the fleeting moment of my constantly changing physical and emotional states.

How did you get into art? Why art?

Due to family restrictions I could not do art at a professional level and had to wait 20 years to do so. Art allowed me to express myself after years of suppression. That is why I paint, because paintings are not dictated by time.

DEEDS WORLD - Portrait Elnara Nasirli 1

Portrait Elnara Nasirli. Foto: Adil Yusifov © Elnara Nasirli

What is currently making you happy?

The weather lately and live music. I do not like the cold.

What is currently scaring you?

Fear is where the growth is.  Whatever scares me challenges me .  Before I started my big canvas series, I was afraid of color. It disgusted me, scared me. I did not dare use more than three colors at a time. Thats why I decided to challenge myself to use color in unconventional for me ways. The results were astounding , I was able to explore colors never thought I would be willing or able to use. It’s through the challenges that you create the most powerful work because it portrays the overcoming aspect of life. 

Do you believe that art has a social responsibility? And what do you think it can achieve?

Art can transform the way we look at things in the world. Therefore we need to be careful what we send out into the world. Our message may affect other people in one way or another.

Elnara Nasirli © Elnara Nasirli

What characterises your art? What is your work about – what are the central themes?

I create limitless worlds in various mediums.

Lesen Sie die Antwort von Elnara Nasirli auf die Frage nach dem zentralen Werk weiter in “THE DEED | DAS WERK

How do you protect yourself from too much inspiration in today’s times?

Be extremely disciplined both in body and mind. Focus on priorities and keep working regardless of life’s hurdles.

How much of your work is planned in advance – how much arises intuitively?

I do a lot of experimentation, therefore it depends on the piece. The mixed media pieces require technical knowledge and need to be planned technically. The paintings take a lot of mental preparation, but are painted entirely intuitively in the moment and are not edited. It’s a direct connection to uninterrupted flow.

What are your (next) goals?

To paint bigger. Always bigger. Also, mass interactive participation in my work.

What is your position on the subject of faith? Do you have principles of faith or is there a motto?

Which project would you still like to realise if a lack of time, courage or financial resources did not play a role?

Paint a whole city, bold and bright.

In your view, what are the attributes of good art?

When you are in awe in front of it. You feel overwhelmed by its energy, power, message.

DEEDS WORLD - Elnara Nasirli Artwork

Elnara Nasirli © Elnara Nasirli

Is one born as an artist? Or is studying art compulsory?

The point of being an artist is to express what people have difficulty expressing. If one is able to do so, then they are an artist.

Who do you show a new work to first?

It depends on the piece. Usually the person who was present in the first moments of creation of the piece, as they are the most crucial.

What does the first hour of your day look like?

I wake up to music, drink water and get my body moving with a morning routine. I live with extreme chronic pain, therefore my day consists of 3-4 hours physiotherapy, meditation, mindset work and studio time is usually from 2 – 8pm.


Die Ausstellung „RADIX – Radical Root Explorations in Berlin and Baku“ mit verschiedenen Mixed Media Arbeiten von Elnara Nasirli ist vom 1. Juni bis 1. Juli 2023 in der Q Gallery Berlin,
Großgörschenstraße 7, 10827 Berlin-Schöneberg zu sehen. Die Arbeiten werden in einer Doppelausstellung mit Elfi Greb präsentiert. Die Ausstellung ist Dienstag, Mittwoch, Freitag + Samstag von 11:00 bis 18:00 Uhr geöffnet, Montag und Donnerstag nach Vereinbarung.

Elnara Nasirli (instagram: @elnara.nasirli)

Elnara Nasirli (Behance: @elnaranasirli)

Die DEEDS-Interviews werden von unserer Redaktion nicht redigiert oder gekürzt und stets im O-Ton wiedergegeben. Daher nehmen wir auch keine Übersetzung des Interviews in Englische bzw. Deutsche vor, es sei denn, diese wird seitens des/der Interviewten eingereicht, oder wir werden mit der Übersetzung betraut. Hier wurde die deutsche Version des Interviews von der Künstlerin eingereicht.

This post is also available in: English

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