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Hadi Aghaee, Former Mission College Student, Reaches a Milestone in Artistic Career

Artist Hadi Aghaee has been making art since he was a child living in Iran.

“I have some experience creating sculptures,” Aghaee said. “I am the son of a blacksmith. My father and I created tools from scrap metal. I looked at what my dad did.”

Since coming to America in 1976, Aghaee has lived in San Jose for over 30 years and worked as an engineer.


“I visited Iran 20 years after being away,” Aghaee said. “Part of the city I grew up in, Shiraz, was destroyed to create new buildings in my former neighborhood. I took my camera and took pictures of what was left. When I returned home to the U.S., I started painting what was left of my childhood memories. One of the paintings was from a historical mosque where my parents prayed. I named this particular painting after the mosque.”

Now retired from engineering, Aghaee does acrylic paintings with some pastel work on the side. Aghaee has taken art classes at Evergreen College and Mission College. At Mission College, he won the President’s Purchase Award in 2016 for his digital painting called “Heart or Mind.”

Aghaee learned from Mission College Art Instructor George Rivera how to work quickly with acrylic because this medium dries much faster than oil.

“Among many things that I learned from George Rivera, his advice about having a central element that connects all other elements together in a narrative style of painting was valuable,” Aghaee said. “Having a central element can help to anchor the narrative and give the viewer a focal point to guide their interpretation of the painting. This made the series I created more interesting and meaningful.”

From Lynne Todaro, retired Mission College Art Instructor, Aghaee learned how to create 2D art and 3D art.

“What I valued most about Lynne Todaro’s class was the comprehensive process of creating bronze sculptures, from the initial design drawing to the pouring of molten metal into the mold, and all the intricate steps in between,” Aghaee said. “With her guidance, I was able to create a sculpture piece that even won an award. The piece called ‘The Three Axes of Evil’ was about how religion, politicians and media always stir the pot to create friction among people.”

Aghaee has reached a milestone in his career as an artist. Some of his work will be shown at the Triton Museum in his first solo exhibition. “Looking Beyond Ourselves: A Socio-Political Expression Exhibition” opened on April 29 and will run until July 2. On May 20th, Hadi Aghaee and three other artists will be honored at a reception at the museum from 2-4 p.m.

“One painting I made shown at the de Young Museum that is at the Triton Museum is called ‘Corona Declared a Pandemic,’” Aghaee said. “The painting depicts how the country reacted to the news when Corona was declared a pandemic. This painting depicts people running away from the bulls. Each of these people represent the essential workers of this country. The people on the bulls are the people who cashed their money and didn’t care about others.”


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