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 Cyrus Afsary  (1940 or 1941 - )

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Lived/Active: Arizona      Known for: landscape, still life, and portrait painting

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Ad Code: 2
Cyrus Afsary
from Auction House Records.
Hunting, 2010
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Known for lush still lifes, landscapes, and portraits in oil, he also works in watercolors and pastels. He began to get attention as an artist in the early 1980s as an artist who obviously loved the Southwest. In 1988, he won the Robert Lougheed Memorial at the National Academy of Western Art Exhibition, and he has also received recognition from the Pastel Society of America and the Northwest Rendezvous, both of which he is a member.

He was born and raised in the Middle East and enrolled in art classes at age fifteen and was trained in the style of the Russian masters and traditions of Ilya Repin and Valentin Serov. Soon after, he had portrait commissions. His parents died when he was young and did not live to see his success.

When he was in his early thirties, he became a United States citizen and moved first to Nevada where other family members had settled. In 1970, he did a large mural for the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. He worked as an interior designer, but wanted more freedom to be creative. Eventually he moved to Arizona and established his studio and home in Tempe. He prefers to work from afternoon into the night because he likes quiet and solitude.

In America, he has done portraits of celebrities including Frank Sinatra, Sylvester Stallone, and Dean Martin. He has exhibited at numerous western shows including The Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma and The Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City.

Biography from Altermann Galleries & Auctioneers:
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.

Biography from Trailside Galleries:
Cyrus Afsary is known for works of art that not only capture moments in time, but create moods about people and places as well.  With an eclectic range of subjects, Afsary moves from portraits to still lifes to landscapes with a magical grace that reflects his sensitive and emotional study of life.  As a child, his love for art was evident.  And while his father was concerned for his penchant for art, his mother encouraged his talent.

Afsary enrolled in art school at the age of 15. As a teenager, he received commissions for painting portraits, which served him well later in his career when he was invited to paint portraits of Sylvester Stallone, Frank Sinatra, Susan Anton, Dean Martin, and Wayne Newton’s horse, Aramis.In college, Afsary earned two Bachelor of Arts degrees, one in Fine Arts and the other in interior design.  His education has led him, through the years, to paint a wide variety of subjects in his preferred medium, oil, and sometimes watercolors and pastels.

He has been greatly influenced by the artwork of the masters, especially the great Russian artists, Ilya Repin and Valentin Serov. Afsary’s work has been featured in numerous shows and he has won a variety of awards, including, Best of Show at the Charles M. Russell Museum’s art exhibition, the Exceptional Merit Award from the National Art Club in the 1986 Pastel Society of Northwest Rendezvous.

In 1988, he was the first recipient of the Robert Lougheed Memorial Award, then sponsored by the National Academy of Western Art.  He won both Silver and Gold Medals in the NAWA shows.Afsary has participated at the Masters of the American West Show at the Autry Museum in Los Angeles in 2001 and in 2002, participated in the Buffalo Bill Historical Center Show and Sale.  Afsary was one of four artists chosen to exhibit in Gilcrease Museum’s 2002 Rendezvous in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

He and his work have been profiled in Midwest Art, Southwest Art, Art of the West and most recently, American Artist.  That profile noted, “A gentle, thoughtful man with a ready laugh, Cyrus Afsary is equally adept at painting landscapes, still lifes, and portraits, infusing each with the sensitivity that characterizes all of his work. His colors are clear and clean; the brushwork is decisive and vigorous, conveying through lucid technical choices his personal interpretation of the subject at hand.  A viewer might feel the warmth of the sun and observe the clarity of light in his landscapes and assume the artist paints outdoors. “I’m kind of lazy,” he confides, “But I do paint outdoors occasionally.  We have beautiful light in Arizona.”

Biography from Morris & Whiteside Galleries:
Raised in the Middle East, Cyrus Afsary began his artistic studies at an early age. Enrolling in an art conservatory at fifteen, his first art education sprung from the strict realist training coming from Russia during that time.  Many of Afsary's classes were very structured in their teachings and much of his time was spent drawing from life.

It was also at this time that Afsary began to earn a living as an artist, selling commission portraits while in his teens.  After leaving the conservatory, Afsary continued to paint and decided to pursue a career as an artist in his early thirties.  Now known for his portraits he continues to explore other subject matter as well, ranging from landscapes to still lives.  Although he works primarily in oils, he also likes to experiment with other mediums, such as pastels and watercolors.

In the 1980's, Afsary's work began to attract the attention of Western art dealers and collectors.  Today Afsary continues to work from his studio in Phoenix, Arizona.  He has been the receipient of many art awards including the first Robert Lougheed Memorial at the 1988 National Academy of Western Art Exhibition, Best of Show at the C.M. Russell Museum Art Exhibition and the Exceptional Merit Award from the National Arts Club.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at registrar@AskART.com.


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