Next Up: ARTJEDI1’s Journey From Surgical Precision to Digital Expression

BY Matt Medved

May 03, 2024

They say the best career paths are non-linear. Multidisciplinary creative ARTJEDI1 has certainly taken that to heart.

Drawn to art from an early age, ARTJEDI1 (born Bea Kayani) found early inspiration in the symmetrical and pattern-rich art of the Middle East. Originally trained as a maxillofacial surgeon, she turned to art as a critical source of solace and stress relief.

This artistic calling took on new significance when personal health challenges and family tragedies prevented her from continuing in surgery and traditional painting, inspiring a shift to digital photography. Captivated by the details in natural reflections, particularly water, the UK-based artist developed her signature “Waterscapes” series and dove headfirst into web3.

Every week, nft now’s Next Up showcases a new artist from our curated list of ascendant talents who have been making significant waves throughout web3. This week, our spotlight turns to ARTJEDI1.

nft now: How did you first become interested/involved in digital art? 

ARTJEDI1: Art itself has always been my refuge and solace. From a young age, being surrounded by Middle Eastern geometric abstraction ingrained an insatiable love for symmetry, repetition, and patterns. I was a voracious reader. I loved literature, philosophy, and even books on the art of war from my father’s library. I’d read anything! I was also painting. Figurative oil paintings, landscapes, and highly detailed sketches of house plants and people from family photographs.  

Officially, I was never encouraged to become an artist, so I studied science-led pathways and eventually trained as a maxillofacial surgeon. It turned out I was pretty good at it. Healing people was my gift. During that time, I’d paint as a measure of stress relief.  

A significant shift happened in my life circa 2008; close family members passed away one after another. A very close family member suffered a severe accident, and my life collapsed on me. The huge stress-triggered hyper-immune reaction left every single joint in my body damaged and swollen for more than two years with excruciating, stabbing, constant chronic pain. During that time, I couldn’t practice surgery or even hold a brush to paint correctly.  

Around then, I was gifted a primary Nikon DSLR camera that I started playing with. I liked the immediacy of the medium. I lived very close to Lake Zurich and took photos on my walks with my daughter. Then, I’d come home and play with contrasts. I started observing the details in minute spaces in water. And the vistas that started opening by variation of RGB colors and HDR contracts. Invisible would become visible,  “other” perspectives would open up, and I couldn’t have enough of playing with the possibilities of one single image. I decided to take it seriously, took lessons on photography techniques from one of the very best long-standing Swiss photographers, and was introduced to the magic of macro lenses and long exposures. Even though I was photographing anything from flowers to people, the minutiae and mundanity of water reflections drew me in more than portraits or landscapes. I felt more calm when photographing water. The play of light and wind. Ever-changing algorithms of nature. My brain and eyes were trained to look through microscopic images pretty much all my life, and the chase of immortalizing an ephemeral occurrence was somehow soul-satisfying. A moment that would never repeat, just like the moment that changed my life forever, caught in my net and cut open to show a myriad of infinite possibilities: hope, healing, beauty, and joy. I never looked back.  

“A moment that would never repeat, just like the moment that changed my life forever, caught in my net and cut open to show a myriad of infinite possibilities: hope, healing, beauty, and joy. I never looked back.”


The painterly nature of what I saw in the water intrigued me. I could see Bernhard Edmaier-esque aerial images of Earth in the most minor sections of water reflections. With a strong affinity for environmental issues, I started capturing those as much as I could. Healing took place as I felt stronger and eventually took photos of water around the globe—raw and unedited macro photography for a while. My collection “Waterscapes” was born. I called it “An Echo of Chaos.” Which has since been exhibited widely. “Parallel Lives” from this collection was displayed in Times Square on a 42-story Linc LIC building in 2013.  

Soon after, I started breaking all the rules of photography I had learned and getting pretty exciting results. The challenge of translating what I saw in abstract, ephemeral scenarios led to psychedelic, surreal, and elemental Rorschach-like multimedia artworks. I started mixing painting and photography. Repetition, mirroring, and collage started appearing. A new way of storytelling evolved in my works. I began considering the visual, emotional, and political interpretations of color and compositions through these works. Later, I paired my focus with the perception of art itself. A diverse yet substantial body of reflective and meditative artworks has evolved as a result: An Echo Of Chaos (2009), Luminosity (2012), Metamorphosis (2013), and Humans 2014 (ongoing), conceptual lens-based works that emerged from Tate Modern-Spike Island Artist Exchange workshops in 2016 and many more.  

I went to Pakistan to document the aftermath of country-wide flooding and raise funds and awareness of the devastation. I went to Lebanon and photographed the beauty and history of the country. Eventually, I  became a member of the Royal Photography Society, UK, in 2013. I failed to renew my membership as my interest evolved beyond photography into the philosophical realm. I started curating my art education and enrolled in short-module courses at Chelsea College of Art & Design and Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London.  As I evolved as an artist, my works became sculptural with digital and analog/physical elements since  2015. My concepts became complex, and I started addressing, questioning, and documenting complex issues of existence and humanity through a trans-media approach. I joined the Royal West of England Academy (RWA) before completing my Master in Fine Art Practice in 2017. At this point, my practice fully encompassed the physical and digital hybrid nature of making and displaying art.  

How would you describe your art?  

The problem with innovative ways of creating a new kind of art is that no established words describe it yet. What comes close can be defined as sober psychedelics, liquid modernity, or painting the invisible.  

I am curious about all forms of knowledge and an activist for positive cultural, environmental, and human dynamic shifts. I make meditative archival art as a witness of my time.  

I aim to disrupt the existing hierarchies of “art” with a broader philosophical contemplation about art’s role and very nature. A new kind of painting and mark-making modules types of sculptures. A different interpretation of nature and the potential for a radically new perception of nature that transcends historical confines. The conceptual framework of my art practice provides a lens through which to view the changing dynamics of society, culture, and environment, reflecting a world in a constant state of flow. Back in 2015-2017, while researching for our current epoch to help contextualize my works, I referred to Liquid Modernity as the closest idea that describes my practice.  

In Liquid Modernity (2000), philosopher Zygmunt Bauman characterized the 21st century as the dissolution of the ideological superstructures that long organized and dominated the Western world. “Fluids,” he wrote, “neither fix space nor bind time.”  

In an age where change is the only permanence and uncertainty is the only certainty, my art reflects this epoch. My art is of possibilities, perception, transience, and healing. Art of observation; art as a question; art as a witness. Art that carries multitudes like I carry multitudes within me. In all its forms, my art is always in a state of flow as I am in the flow. 

“My art is of possibilities, perception, transience, and healing. Art of observation; art as a question; art as a witness. Art that carries multitudes like I carry multitudes within me. In all its forms, my art is always in a state of flow as I am in the flow.”


By utilizing nature’s algorithms in my art, I dwell in change, constantly evolving in search of a higher consciousness contact point in this existence between my material world (figurative works) and my spiritual, consciousness, awareness (Abstract works), and liminal amalgams of these states that have evolved over 16 years from long-form organic, natural and human patterns.  

To dwell in change means to shed fixed axioms, a phenomenon we see readily in the way  categories like gender, sexuality, and race have become more self-defined, and structures of  domination – white supremacy, patriarchy, and speciesism – are actively being dismantled.’ (Ref: Frieze 2021) 

A deep interest in cybernetics (feedback loops), quantum biology, and the potential of technology to develop a deeper understanding of ourselves as humans and the world around us is reflected in my art. In this ever-shifting landscape, by documenting the everyday, mundane events in nature and current events, I anchor myself and the viewer in the “now” while simultaneously opening other windows of perception and experience. To a large extent, my art provides me with this evolving liminal space while tearing down the perceived fabric of reality to experience life as expansive as possible beyond my conditioning to reflect my evolution as a human through my art and share this learning with the broader humankind. There is no perfection, only progress.  

A hundred years ago, “to be modern” meant to chase “the final state of perfection” – now it means  an infinity of improvement, with no “final state” in sight and none desired.’ Zygmunt Bauman

What’s your process like? And where do you usually find inspiration? 

A nuanced post-conceptual, media-agnostic art practice. An intuitive, iterative process. A  constant state of discovery and feedback loops. It is pushing the boundaries of traditional mediums to create digital/analog works that combine unconventional materials and experimental digital techniques and breaking the rules. Recurrent threads are faculties of collage, blur, and figurative abstraction utilizing mediums such as photography, painting, printmaking, sculpture, and 4-D installations (and in the last two years) AI and code. The execution process differs for each body of work, but my thought process remains the same. It’s like taking the same ingredients but mixing them differently to get somewhere new or different. 

 I often capture transient ephemeral “glitches” in the matrix of time, history, and existence (nature and synthetic) by analog means, mundane and found materials, and recycled items. It is a spontaneous chance encounter often subjected to careful deliberation and a pristine dissection. Documentation or a comment hinting at the art of broader resistance, acts of letting go, and ultimately, transformation. I raise questions about perception, identity, memory, and time. References in my works are drawn from architecture, nature, sciences, poetry, literature,  philosophy, and current news.  

I always connect the dots differently because of my “otherness.” Seeking and understanding the “other perspective” is part of my multicultural existence. I am always an outsider looking in until I become an insider openly inviting all.  

“99% of my works either emerge from a photograph or a moving sequence or end up being one. However, my explorations go beyond the photograph. I break it down, deconstruct it, and put it back together like kintsugi.”


Interesting fact: 99% of my works either emerge from a photograph or a moving sequence or end up being one. However, my explorations go beyond the photograph. I break it down, deconstruct it, and put it back together like kintsugi.  

While creating the art of the future, history is my canvas, and nature is a continuous source of inspiration and my palette. I am always making art. No matter where I am. For example, I collect ephemeral anomalies and nature on my long walks by the river. I usually don’t know where these would take me until later; when I start processing them in my studio, patterns start appearing, and I start cataloging these, and then I deliberately look for similar occurrences to evolve specific works further while being open to discoveries. It takes months and years for a body of work to take shape.  

After I have intuitively gathered enough material and I know the direction a body of work is taking,  only then do I research other artists in history who may have explored similar threads of thoughts. This helps me contextualize my works and garner a deeper understanding of my inner mechanics rather than influence my works. It becomes more of a conversation about what has transpired before me, with evolution as my point of departure—a place where my art has agency and stands on its own.  

I find synergies with many before me. Shirin Neshat, Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, William  Kentridge, Anselm Keifer, Gerhard Richter, Joseph Beuys, Antoni Tapies, Bernhard Edmair, Vera Molnar to name a few. Rachel Rose is a more recent contemporary peer. 

Credit: Courtesy of ARTJEDI1

What was your breakthrough moment in web3?  

My story is a little different from most.  

I discovered web3 in early January 2021, shortly after I had shut down my contemporary art gallery, and I had given my tears, sweat, and blood for three consecutive years prior. By then, I had hosted fortnightly art critiques on the TAPS (The Artist Project Space) platform for four years. I have curated/co-curated 17 physical and digital exhibitions across disciplines and funded and run multiple art residencies at my artist-led art center in the UK. I had grown my local network from a handful of people to several thousand. As an artist, I have had a long-standing art practice up to this point. I have exhibited nationally and internationally. I had completed my Master of Fine Art Practice. I had been short-listed for a couple of prestigious awards. From a self-taught artist seeking refuge and healing in my art, I had been selected and welcomed to the contemporary art studios at Spike Island.  

I did not know anyone in web3 when I joined. However, my voice rose to prominence early on. I  understood the importance of this new shift and what the technology offered to artists and builders like myself. I had a lot of knowledge to share and much more to learn, so I set up the “NFT Colab  Club” on Clubhouse. I understood the importance of collaborations and the emergence of new genres and new ways of connecting with wider audiences, especially curators and collectors.  Keeping a tab on best practices and sharing that knowledge in an ever-evolving, fast-paced space became essential for me.  

In 2021, I was invited to join platforms like KnownOrigin and SuperRare, where my “Waterscapes by ARTJEDI1” 1/1s sold for 3 to 5.5 Eth and celebrated by community members and collectors familiar with my profound art trajectory. Further along the line, on Tezos, my work was similarly well-received and even added to the Tezos Foundation’s Permanent Art Collection.  

” A few web3 encounters triggered a lifetime of feelings of loss, and PTSD-related crippling anxiety returned. This was ground zero again.”


However, these years also brought profound personal challenges. Amid the pandemic, I experienced months of separation from my young daughter. I lost access to my previous studio and decades of work due to two hard drives failing simultaneously (which took a lot of effort and time to recover, but it was great for my transition to thinking about mortality and contemplations about existence leading to new works). A few web3 encounters triggered a lifetime of feelings of loss, and PTSD-related crippling anxiety returned. This was ground zero again. In response, 2022-2023 became a time for introspection, profound healing, and affirmation of my resilience. I went deep learning about inner healing and the nature of our reality and consciousness. My life became my palette of careful deliberations, dissection, and putting back together like kintsugi —embracing flaws and imperfections. New works emerged, mostly digital works from analog records and photographs, integrating AI into my multidisciplinary practice.  

I decided to take this time to re-evaluate my art practice and reconnect the dots with greater critical rigor. During this reflective phase, I still engaged with the web3 community. 2022, I was invited to speak at the UK Houses of Parliament to share my journey with other UK leading web3 figures at that time, and I exhibited at Scope, Miami, with Makersplace in Dec. In 2023, I participated in initiatives like Onchain Summer/Official Base partnership with Indelible Labs, exhibited at Saatchi with Iham Gallery, and exhibited in Paris & NYC with theVerseverse. In 2024, I launched “Bullrun by ARTJEDI1” across nine chains with 97 K mints. Another highlight was being a STACKS launch partner with TransientLabs and now being featured on NFT NOW – Next up! I am very grateful for each of these opportunities to cross my path and for the love and support in Web3. Over the last 3.5 years, I have had the chance to increase my collector base from a handful to a few thousand. Finally, in late 2023, I was able to gain access to all my work and am in the process of organizing it all to be able to share more about my past, current, and future works.  

 My journey underscores my commitment to fostering an ecosystem where artists can remain true to their vision. As I embark on this new chapter, I am eager to consolidate and share these insights with the nft now audience, celebrating both the technological advancements and the personal growth that have defined my path.

What are the biggest challenges facing rising artists in web3? 

Artists face multiple challenges, from either not understanding the broader technological advancement or an inability to keep up with the fast-paced nature of the space to find a place for themselves in the gambling-oriented tone to art collecting from the crypto-culture.  

A shortage of critical rigor in most artists’ works leaves them feeling lost. A sense of impatience is counterintuitive in this ecosystem for the development of sincere artistic practices.

What advice do you have for rising artists in this space? 

Touch grass more often. Stay true to your path. Develop a clear vision for your art. Be open-minded. Cultivate authentic relationships with mutually supportive and knowledgeable folks. Learn relentlessly. Be organized. Have all your work links in order. Put more thought into your art releases.

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