Opening September 10, 2015
Public reception: 7-9pm
Shulamit Nazarian is pleased to announce two new exhibitions for the fall. Fereydoun Ave, considered the godfather of contemporary Iranian art, will present new work from his ongoing “Rostam” series, in which he explores masculinity and the cultural psyche. In the second gallery, Los Angeles-based artist Sherin Guirguis will unveil a new group of sculptures based on the nuances of heritage, home, and modern conceptions of identity.
Ave, one of the most important figures to emerge from the first generation of contemporary Iranian artists in the 1970s, continues to develop his longstanding mixed-media collage “Rostam” series, in which the artist uses a found magazine clipping of a wrestler from a sports magazine to represent the epic mythological Iranian hero in an attempt to locate and balance the opposing concepts of male chivalry and chauvinism. In this new work, Rostam is given a distinct dynamism as the figure is repeated and overlaid, as if to animate and add dimension to his flattened image. Rostam’s arms, the source of his brawn and the tools of his strength, radiate around him like butterfly’s wings. A mushroom cloud, the contentious symbol of the atomic bomb and the visual marker of its very real devastation, propels Rostam forward. Ave’s acute pairing of images creates a profound visual puzzle, decipherable through the deep reckoning of associations and histories.
Complicated conceptions of Iranian masculinity are further explored in Shah-Abbas and His Page Boy (2015). For this series, Ave daubs hand-sewn patchwork fabrics with paint and other materials in gestures that recall the expressionism of Cy Twombly as well as the evocative ready-mades of Robert Rauschenberg. Ruler of Iran from 1587 to 1629, Shah Abbas ushered in the country’s Golden Age and portrayals of the enlightened but flawed ruler in literature and art often depict his promiscuity—in particular, his brimming harem and proclivity toward young boys—as an illustration of his contradictory lifestyle and values. Ave’s abstractions add a new dimension to that history of representation, as his works are imbued with a surprising intimacy and vulnerability.
Sherin Guirguis, like Ave, references her Middle Eastern heritage and melds it with contemporary Western aesthetics to create powerful works of art. Her new group of sculptures—the final part in a three part series of works entitled El Biet El Kabeer—was inspired by water vessels, or Ollal, found in many older or traditional Egyptian households in the southern parts of the country. In Guiguis’ work Arabic ornamentation and geometric patterns are are laser cut into aluminum panels, then mounted upon wood cores. These objects reference the shapes of the Ollal, yet they are clearly not functional as such. The Guirguis family home in Luxor, Egypt, the last remaining physical connection to a homeland for the artist, was demolished in 2007, an event that triggered the ideas that led to this body of work. The sculptures are symbols and physical repositories for ephemeral memories and lost places. Guirguis’ unique emigrant experience is a personal story that fits into the larger historical context as a compelling and very human case study.
Fereydoun Ave (b. 1945 Tehran, Iran) received his BA in Theatre Arts from Arizona State University and studied film at New York University. Ave’s career spans four decades, and his work is held in important collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the British Museum, London; and the Tehran Contemporary Art Museum.
Sherin Guirguis (b. 1974 Luxor, Egypt) received her BA from the University of California, Santa Barbara and her MFA from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Guirguis has exhibited at The Third Line Gallery, Dubai; the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Scottsdale; Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco; and LAXART, Los Angeles; the 2015 Venice Biennale; the Orange County Museum of Art; and the Sharjah Art Museum.