Why Jimi Hendrix is an artistic hero

Dubai-based painter Sacha Jafri educates EDGAR.

Robert Chilton June 5, 2017

When most lads his age were playing football or video games, Sacha Jafri was being taken to the world’s best art galleries by his mother.

“I remember going to the Musee d’Orsay in Paris when I was seven,” he tells EDGAR with a smile. “It’s still my favourite gallery because it has all the great impressionists who inspire me – Van Gogh, Degas, Monet. I’m not inspired by modern art because I think there’s a lot of nonsense out there.” 

Two years later, the spark turned into a flame when Jafri went to Rome to see Michaelangelo’s sculpture Pieta. “It was the first time I became emotional looking at a piece of art,” he recalls. “It blew me away and changed my life.” 

Now Jafri is a major player on the contemporary art scene and has sold his work to Barack Obama, Leonardo DiCaprio, George Clooney and Bill Clinton. He recently created a giant canvas titled The Soul of the Earth for the 2017 Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai, the prestigious annual conference that attracts world leaders and thinkers to discuss how learning can be improved. 

To create the 4x2 metre canvas, Jafri “got into a trance and allowed my subconscious to take over. I didn’t have a clue what I was painting. After 27 hours of painting, this beautiful, magical thing happened that I’m really proud of. It was a moment that I borrowed and now I’ve given it back.”

Although Van Gogh’s The Starry Night is the piece he would most love to buy, Jafri respects artists from the modern era such as Anselm Kiefer, Willem de Kooning and Jean-Michel Basquiat. He also has heroes outside the art arena such as Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Bob Marley, and Jimi Hendrix. “I try to do with paint what Hendrix did with his guitar,” explains Jafri. “He channelled raw emotion and real passion to create an incredibly energising sound. If a painting is not like a Jimi Hendrix guitar solo then forget it – it’s not worth hanging on a wall.”