Lehmann Maupin is pleased to present Through Mist, Shirazeh Houshiary’s first solo exhibition in Hong Kong and her seventh show with the gallery. Through painting, sculpture, and animation, Houshiary plays with opposing ideas and states of being, including transparency and opacity, presence and absence, materiality and intangibility, and light and darkness, exploring the very nature of existence and metaphysical thought. The artist’s exhibition at the Hong Kong gallery debuts seven new works that address cross-sensory perception. Her paintings are meant to trigger the senses—not only sight, but touch, smell, taste, and sound as well—by registering associations with experience and memory. The paintings and wall sculpture attempt to articulate the infinite, a metaphysical reality that lies beyond the surfaces of her work. The artist will be present for an exhibition opening at the gallery on November 25 from 6-8PM.
Houshiary’s time-consuming artistic process involves the build-up of multiple layers of pigment, pattern, and line. This laborious and intricate technique involves placing the canvases on the floor of her studio and working from a horizontal viewpoint, meaning that the scale of her work is often informed by her own physical body. Given her use of pencil and pigment, the paintings appear almost transparent, yet the succession of layers gives a strong sense of depth and dimension. Houshiary’s work is meant to be experiential, and the viewer’s perception is of vital importance to understanding her subtle and detailed visual language.
In her latest paintings, Houshiary’s organic gestures manifest in diaphanous, sweeping marks that appear to undulate and vibrate across the surface of the canvas. The marks are an accumulation of tightly written and highly organized words obscured through repetition and overlap that create a mesh-like veil and give the works a feeling of flux and infinity. The luminous works call to mind associations with shifting atmospheres, migratory currents, fingerprints, and topographies.
Cast in stainless steel and coated in matte black paint, the wall sculpture Resonance is lit so that it creates no shadow, contrasting to the luminosity of Houshiary’s paintings. Resembling spiraling ribbons, Resonance reiterates the sense of the infinite, challenging perceptions of time, space, and presence.
Houshiary’s work presents a universal language, transcending cultural specificity. In reference to this unique viewpoint, curator Fereshteh Daftari has written, “Houshiary refuses to inhabit a ghetto either Western or Islamic and instead invents a new order alien to both. Her work suggests a stage prior to and beyond difference, in which everyone finds something they can recognize—the pulse of life, the trace of a self, something akin to the visualization of human presence. The signpost leading Houshiary to new territories and destinations are both Eastern (and not only Islamic) and Western (modernist).”** Veils, shrouds, and membranes, as well as gashes, ruptures, and chasms, are frequently depicted in her work. These motifs both visually and conceptually indicate a break where the viewer can see through or beyond the surface.
In March 2016, Houshiary will conclude her residency at the Singapore Tyler Print Institute with a solo exhibition. Her monumental painting Echo (2013) will also be included in the group exhibition Regarding Spirituality, curated by Leesa Fanning, at the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, Missouri in 2018.
*Shirazeh Houshiary, exh. cat., Kukje Gallery, Seoul, 2004.