Organizations* : NAWA, NWR, OPA
A gentle, thoughtful man with a ready laugh, Arizona artist Cyrus Afsary is equally adept at painting landscapes, still lifes and portraits, infusing each with the sensitivity that characterizes all of his work. A spiritual man, he reaches deep within to transfer his feelings about a subject to the canvas. His colors are clear and clean, while his brushwork is decisive and vigorous.
Afsary’s style is impressionistic. While growing up, he studied with artists of Russian influence, whose method of painting loosely with a wide brush had a lasting influence on him. Now, “I have different days,” Afsary says. Sometimes he concentrates on the 19th Century French painter William Bouguereau; on other days, he focuses on a later period and the works of John Singer Sargent or Nicolai Fechin. The quality he admires in those artists, he says, is when “brushwork in the corners and along the edges of the canvas show you that it is a painting, not a photograph.”
An impressionistic approach also influences Afsary’s color choices. Sometimes the artist replicates the hues he sees, but at other times he chooses to paint a variation on nature’s colors, changing them in his own way. As he puts it, “If I were a piano player, I would not play only part of the keyboard. It’s the same with painting. I use a variety of colors.” Afsary relies on his strong technical skills when identifying and placing the colors and values in each piece. He states, “I want [viewers] to see what I do. I’m hoping that they see part of me on my canvas.”
Born and raised in the Middle East, Afsary left the region when he was in his early 30’s. Now a naturalized American citizen, he remembers reading books that depicted important European artists, such as William Merritt Chase and Thomas Moran. As a result, he followed his interest in art, enrolling in classes at fifteen and graduating from college with degrees in both interior design and the arts. His training was similar to the Chinese artists whose careers were influenced by the strict realist studies that began in Russia and spread across the world in the 1950’s.
Afsary’s work has been featured in numerous shows and he has received a number of awards for his paintings. He was an invited artist at the National Academy of Western Art (NAWA), and in 1987 became a member as well as receiving their Gold Medal in Oil. That same year, he joined the Northwest Rendezvous of Art, where he also received a Merit Award. At the NAWA show in 1988, Afsary was the first ever recipient of the Robert Lougheed Memorial Award and the next year at NAWA his work was included in the silver medal drawing. Afsary has also participated in the prestigious Masters of the American West Fine Arts Exhibition at the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum in Los Angeles since 2000. His work has been profiled in Midwest Art, Art Talk, Art of the West, American Artist, and Southwest Art.