Messy Art

Fateme Banishoeib | June 29, 2021 | Leave a Comment

Messy Art by Fateme Banishhoeib

Not all the pieces come together. What happens to those that don’t fit in? Lost in the “longing to be”
(Detail) Fateme Banishoeib © 2021

This article is published on the MAHB Blog and the MAHB Arts Community page.

In the middle of the first wave of the pandemic, I had to move. I found myself in a messy apartment, surrounded by the messy bureaucracy getting even messier as a consequence of extended lock-down.

Without WiFi in the new home and completely isolated I decided to start painting. I had told myself endless times that to paint I needed a studio first. It was never a good time to get a studio. For years my hands had a craving for large, ridiculously large, canvas. But, it wasn’t a good time for gigantic canvas either. 

One morning, I had enough of all my excuses, and went to the first store I could find open to buy tempera colours. All I needed was primary colours, my fingers and a plastic knife. I thought that if I could not have white immaculate canvas, I was going to paint on recycled paper (ridiculously good quality from a vintage catalog). After all, we rarely get a fresh start. Often we get a page stained from history. Messy Art was born!

As a child, I painted and drew all the time. I learned several techniques and forgot them all in the years I believed I wasn’t an artist but just a scientist. In this past year, through the daily practice of Messy Art, I have come to know and learn artfully. I called my practice Messy Art without knowing why I had picked such a name. The practice thought me that it is so because is NOT linear, NOT perfect, NOT controlled. Why is that? It is a practice of Liberation, Exploration (and Experimentation) and Relation. That’s where the learning happens.

A deliberate artistic inquiry to explore life through the lens of art what I embarked on without knowing or expecting any particular outcome. This is exactly what art as a learning experience means to me. It means that we learn as we practice. It means that we are not the teachers, but art is. It means we have to be willing to “sell our cleverness to buy bewilderment” (Rumi). 

“Life is art. Art is life. I never separate it.” Ai Weiwei
Mixed media watercolor gold ink (25 x 19 cm)
Fateme Banishoeib © 2021

In challenging moments (like the pandemic we are living in), instead of rising to our practices we fall for the easy tools. We look for the easiest (and fastest) way out. We want a list of proven benefits and clear steps to follow. We want to know without having learned, mistaking knowledge for wisdom.

Art, or as I call it heART, is not a skill, a process or a tool for coping and entertaining. It is the very essence at the center of our being that when evoked and practiced helps us create new paradigms.

Different on the surface. Similar in the heART. A core golden truth. The truth of ONE.
Watercolor, gold ink on paper (22 x 16 cm)
Fateme Banishoeib © 2021

The golden touch of awareness
Mixed media: acrylic ink, soft pastel and oil pastel, gold ink on paper (25 x 19 cm)
Fateme Banishoeib © 2021

It means that we do not look at art and artists thinking “what can it give me?” It means not making a business case for art so we can extract value from it. It means we are capable to sense before we can make sense. It means we start embracing the artist within ourselves and create a space for evoking and invoking the artist in others too. 

I have seen an increased explosion of schools, businesses, corporations exploiting the art field since the pandemic started. Our usual ways to extract value from everything and turning it into the new trend, another way to exploit nature, the planet, art and artists with the latest trends. Let’s stop right now right here if we truly want a new more inclusive, fair, just, alive…world. 

My invitation to you is to create time and space to practice (together) some Messy Art:

What if instead of approaching everything as broken, or as an enemy to combat against, or as a mine to dig value out of, we took time to practice art? What would we learn? 

What if our work wasn’t to protect, control, manage but elevate, evolve and enable artful learning? 

What if the leadership we look for out there to help us out of the deep global crisis was instead the heART leadership of listening and witnessing? 

What do we learn about ourselves, about how we relate and connect to the world through a  Messy Art practice? Can we make it a practice to re-NEW harmony and wellbeing for all beings?

As I tend and mend painting after painting to these questions, I sense an undercurrent that is there and not visible to the eyes (nor to the clever mind) yet. An undercurrent of life still in the shadow waiting for us to see, listen, sense, BE… so we can create some Messy Art to express her.

Life is messy, and we got reminded (once again) by the current world turmoils and incertitudes. The meaning we attach to messiness says something about our relationship to control rather than the situations themselves. 

Learning is messy and non-linear. It becomes wisdom as we experience that messiness in full. Living fully (heARTfully) might require we start learning to listen to that messiness, not to control it but to express it with beauty and harmony.

We become creators when we start creating (thinking about creating isn’t creating!). I have created around 300 Messy Art paintings, which I sense are a compass guiding me (us?) to a learning space. Can we learn the wild road into the forest before we discover the roses?

Fateme Banishoeib is the heARTist and founder of ReNEW Business where we create work culture like a piece of art.

After overseeing quality and operations in Fortune 500 corporations globally – from the United States to Europe and Asia she founded in 2017 a creative laboratory, ReNEWBusiness, to support leaders and organizations to make a business a human experience. Storytelling, poetry, and heART are the pillars of her work. Fateme brings the heART and the mind of a polymath to organizational development: a trained chemist’s capacity to understand and work with complexity with an artist’s human sensibility to sense what is emerging and evoke the heART of a human being.

Her work has always been at the intersection of fields, cultures, disciplines creating bridges and harmonious, regenerative new paradigms.

For more information on her work, visit her website: and follow her on social media: LinkedIN, Instagram, and Twitter

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This article is part of the MAHB Arts Community‘s “Covid19 Diaries Series”. If you are an artist interested in sharing your thoughts and artwork, as it relates to the disrupted but defining period of time we live in, please contact Michele Guieu, Eco-Artist, and MAHB Arts Community coordinator:
Thank you. ~

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