Young Afghans: “I want to spread the message of hope and peace through art”

Zakia Khojazada is a young artist from northern Mazar e Sharif province

As a small girl, becoming an artist and painter was not a part of Zakia Khojazada’s career goals. She found the abstract lines drawn on a life-size canvas too mind-boggling to comprehend.

As GermanartistAnselm Kiefer once famously said, art is not entertainment, it is difficult. Zakia, by her own admission, was befuddled by the nitty-gritty of this art business.

Once, after much cajoling, Zakia’s friends took her to an art exhibition in Mazar e Sharif, her native place. A local artist was displaying his work at the exhibition. After carefully observing the beautiful paintings hanging on the hall, Zakia got her inspiration.

“Those paintings left an indelible impression on my mind and a voice inside told me I can also do it,” says Zakia, 24. “I felt an instant connection with those art works on display.”

From that day, Zakia started drawing paintings. “Initially, I used to draw quite erratically and randomly, and the paintings mostly ended up in a trash bin,” says Zakia. “I knew I could do better so I strived hard. I refused to give up.”

The support of family was a big source of encouragement for her. “My mother has always been a pillar of support and strength, she supported me and asked me to continue,” says Zakia. Her mother, although not a trained artist, knows quite a lot about the world of art. “Her inputs were crucial and helped me grow and evolve into a fine artist.”

Since 2010, Zakia has been studying fine arts and has made paintings on various themes. “The past four years have been the most fulfilling period of my life, now I feel like a professional artist,” she says.

Zakia Khojazada heads an association of young artists in northern Balkh province and guides other young artists, especially women

Today, she heads an association of young artists in northern Balkh province and guides other young artists, especially women. “I work with 40 other young women artists in my home province and it is amazing to see the interest they are showing towards art,” says Zakia.

She has held 10 exhibitions of her art works and plans to hold more exhibitions in future. “It is just the beginning, there is much more to be done,” says the young artist, oozing confidence. She is inspired by legendary artists like Ghulam Mohammad Maimangi, Ali Kohzad and others.

“Now we have huge number of young male and female artists in Afghanistan who are doing really well for themselves,” says Zakia. “It gives me tremendous hope about the future of art in Afghanistan.”

However, the lack of resources and facilities for young Afghan artists, she says, is a matter of concern. “If we get adequate resources and platform to showcase our talent, the whole world will sit up and take notice,” says the confident young lady.

“I want to use artto spread the message of hope, love and peace, especially in these times of war and despair,” says Zakia, referring to war and violence in Afghanistan.

Zakia wants to continue her work and open an art gallery for young women artists in her native province. “It is one of my deeply-cherished goals and I am fully committed to it,” she says.