VALLETTA, April 23 (Xinhua) -- Like many war victims, Iranian-born Maltese artist Lida Sherafatmand is still living in the shadow of war, but has found a way to self-salvation through painting flowers as a hopeful message for peace.
"I think if more spaces are given to things which are gentle and soft, there will be less space available for violent things, for harmful things," Sherafatmand told Xinhua about the ideas behind her war-related art.
Sherafamand was two years old during the Iranian revolution and age three when the Iran-Iraq war started in 1980.
"We had to flee our city, first to another city in Iran and eventually we had to leave the country," she said. "It has left quite a big impact on me as a person, in my worldview and also the development of my art."
When she was 14, her family became the first to be granted refugee status in Malta. Now she calls herself an "adopted daughter of Malta."
Despite the difficulties she has undergone, Sherafamand has made a conscious effort to create art that has a positive message.
"I had to sort out all these questions and then I had to sort out also what brings people to such a state where they just kill each other."
Sherafamand studied international relations and politics in university, and then went on to try to help resolve conflict using painting as a medium.
In 2010, Sherafamand formed her artistic style which she called "florescencism": a large number of multiplying flowers flowing in a direction, with ancient symbols of warmth and beauty to create a sense of abundance, growth and peace.
"They are very beautiful and are recognized as beautiful by people in different countries. I express our internal emotions and experiences through these flowers," Sherafamand explains.
"Also, from a medical point of view, almost every flower has a therapeutic function that makes people relaxed and calm, and I hope that the flowers I draw will eliminate anger and make people give up violence," she added.
"Florescencism" was gradually acknowledged by the art world and earned Sherafatmand a series of international awards including the United Nations "Artist for Peace" prize.
Recently, Sherafatmand has completed a painting to contest war called the "Florinal" which is based on Marcel Duchamp's fountain.
"We already know war is ugly," she said, but rather than regurgitate this sentiment Sherafatmand has chosen to focus on more productive alternatives.
"I am trying to create that feeling of the alternative because very often we want peace, but we don't have a vision of what it might look like. I am trying to think about how that peaceful warm caring atmosphere could feel like."
In addition to allowing people to imagine a better world, Sherafatmand has found that painting has helped her deal with conflict at an early age and it continues to do so until now.
"It has allowed me to experience the peace I could not get in my outside environment."