This refugee who paints with a toothbrush ends up being a finalist for a prestigious art prize

Portrait of a refugee artist who has just been honored thanks to a work produced in an improbable way.

His story sounds like revenge on fate!

Kurdish refugee who fled Iran, Mostafa Azimitabar has just been nominated for the Archibald Prize, the most prestigious artistic prize awarded in Australia, thanks to a self-portrait he painted with… a toothbrush during his detention in camps. internment.

To never forget this period of deprivation which lasted 8 years, he chose to title this work in reference to the registration number (“KNSO88”) which he wore when he was detained.

It was in 2014, when he had just been interned in a camp managed by Australia on the island of Manus (Papua New Guinea), that he started painting.

At first, however, the guards refused him this activity, for fear that he would mutilate himself with a paintbrush. But Mostafa was not discouraged even if he had to manage with the means at hand. While he was in the dormitory shared with a dozen refugees, he had a revelation when he saw a cup of coffee and a toothbrush.

“ I don’t know what happened… It was a special moment. I grabbed the brush, dipped it in coffee and ran it over paper ,” he told AFP.

Since then, he has painted only with this unique technique, which allowed him to make this self-portrait.

This work which depicts “ the suffering, the sadness and the strength of his life as a refugee ” therefore seduced the jury of the Archibald prize for portraits, who selected him for the final competition. A real honor for Mostafa, who said it was ” one of the best moments of (his) life “.

The winner of the prize will be known on May 13 and the winner will pocket 100,000 Australian dollars, or 68,000 euros.

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