Sacha Jafri is a globally celebrated contemporary British artist, known for his humanitarian work.
What attracted you to the world of art?
I paint out of necessity because it’s the only way I can make sense of the world. I’ve been an artist for 25 years, known as a pioneer of magical realism. It has evolved from magical realist literature which I became very interested in at Oxford University where I studied fine art. I found the word portrayed by writers such as Gabreil Garcia Marquez and Salman Rushdie fascinating.
Can you tell us about the Journey of Humanity?
My work is always driven by that notion of reconnecting humanity. The Journey of Humanity is the world’s largest painting on canvas [created in Dubai at Atlantis, The Palm]. It took 11 months, with 22 hours of work per day, and raised a lot of money for charity [it sold for £45 million at auction]. It had an extraordinary impact.
Why is charity so important to you?
My work is powerful, magical and has the potential of legacy when it is connected to humanity, either in monetary ways or building awareness for various causes in our world. It helps drive me and inspire me as an artist. I’m particularly interested in giving kids a chance and also sustainability, because, without that, we are not going to have a planet.
What’s The Art Maze?
UNESCO commissioned me to create 50 paintings of its World Heritage sites for its 50th anniversary. That became an art maze formation that people could walk through. I wanted to create something after Covid that reminds us of the beauty within our natural world. We’re becoming obsessed with the metaverse and digital creations. Our next generation has lost a connection to our natural world. The Art Maze is a beautiful journey through our heritage. That project can keep growing.
An example of this is the collaboration with Lufthansa.
Yes, I painted 20 of my World Heritage Site paintings on the fuselage of a decommissioned A320 aircraft. This is a plane that has done millions of miles and has connected people. I was also looking at sustainability and how we can continue the life of this plane and turn it into a work of art. We suspended the pieces from the ceiling for the 50th anniversary of UNESCO at their headquarters in Paris. It was really beautiful.
Did the pandemic boost creativity?
Covid was an opportunity for creativity to be more intention-filled, less agenda-driven. Creation for creation’s sake. Beautiful things were being created for the right reasons.
What’s your favourite gallery?
Musée d’Orsay. I’m a fan of Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, Cézanne and Van Gogh. Painters that evoked emotion through their work.
What’s been your most rewarding travel experience?
A visit to an elephant sanctuary in Sri Lanka.
And most challenging?
In my early twenties I travelled from the UK to Siberia and back without a credit card or cash. I came up with creative ways of travelling, eating and having shelter for free, such as painting and roller blading tricks. It took about a month longer than I thought it was going to be. I had a car crash in the middle of it, it was full-on! It was extreme but very rewarding.
What’s your dream destination?
What are your indispensable travel gadgets?
A sketchpad, pen and roller blades.
What’s your IFE pick?
Getting emotional during a movie and then getting very creative and writing my ideas and thoughts for about two hours. Then I’ll pass out.