Last week we continued the series: Giving a contemporary face to ancient cultures. We explored the work of British born, Dubai based Anglo/Indian artist, Sacha Jafri. His phenomenally meteoric rise in the art world is unprecedented. Sacha Jafri’s career began as a teenager when he attended Eton College on a cricket scholarship and struggled with dyslexia. “I didn’t really know how to communicate with people, and then painting changed my life,” he says. “I had found my voice and my language.” He continued his education at Oxford University and the Royal Academy. Jafri was awarded the 2000 British Painters Prize, marking the beginning of his rise to international prominence. He has rebelled against the “money machine” of the traditional art world, bypassing dealers and galleries and selling directly to hand-picked patrons from his home. “ I have rejected requests from arrogant money-men who don’t really understand humanity or humility or the sense of the soul.” Jafri's cultural references are diverse, but his intention is very singular. “My paintings are about universal consciousness, the idea that we’re all connected, we’re all one and we all need to feed back into the universe." Good words for these times. In the last decade, Jafri spent five years visiting 42 refugee camps in the world. His take away was to donate a portion of each sale to charity and he has raised over $48m . Collectors of Jafri’s work include a who's who of contemporary culture: Bill Gates, George Clooney, President Obama, President Clinton, David Beckham, Sir Richard Branson, HH Prince Albert of Monaco, The King of Spain, as well as numerous Royal Families, private, corporate, and museum collections. Most of the money goes to various organizations working for children, notably those with mental health issues or special needs, or orphaned refugees from war zones. He is the recipient of numerous awards including, the UN's " Artist and Humanitarian" award, and the Global Gift Foundation Humanitarian Award, for efforts “ to help achieve positive change in the lives of children and women by providing shelter, food, clothing, education, medical care, social inclusion, and gender equality.” Jafri is the youngest artist in art history to receive an 18-year retrospective, traveling to 28 countries in 2019-2022.
There is no other culture that celebrates color as much as India. We did a lesson on Indian Folk Art two years ago and it was a favorite. We continued looking further into the culture concentrating on the uses of color in fabrics and festivals concluding again with our version of henna hands.