Opening Reception: January 14, 2016 6-9pm
Shulamit Nazarian is pleased to announce Clavileño, a new exhibition, exploring the relationship between light, movement, and narrative, from Iran-born, Israel-based artist Elham Rokni. Anchored by two videos, the exhibition features new large-scale abstract works on paper that bring flashes of brightness, in the otherwise, dramatically dark installation. Following in the footsteps of experimental filmmakers before her, Rokni embraces a cinematic language that uses autobiographical expression through nonrepresentational imagery to challenge conventional notions of narrative and reflect an individual psyche.
The title video, Clavileño (2010), features a car driving in total darkness, a modern evocation of the famous journey Don Quixote and his squire Sancho Panza take astride Clavileño, a wood peg horse that they imagine can fly. Employing the power of imagination, the pair decides to take a transcendent flight through the air upon the grounded wooden vessel. Similar to the experience of cinema and literature, where parties involved agree to enter another time and space, Clavileño plays off of the Don Quixote narrative and takes the viewer on a journey down a darkened road, connecting imagination to an open world of extraordinary experiences and possibilities.
Accompanying the videos, Rokni’s large-scale works on paper are presented in sequential blocks that become filmic, demonstrating slight movements of light in each frame. And, as with the artist’s videos, these works on paper provide the structure of possible narratives, remaining linear yet abstracted. Freely merging devices from film, literature, and visual art, Rokni aptly explores the dichotomies of reality and fantasy, light and darkness, and memory and myth, each operating as a metaphor for dualities of the mind.
Concurrent to her exhibition at Shulamit Nazarian, Rokni has been invited to participate as an artist-in-residence at 18th Street Art Center in Los Angeles, where she will debut a solo exhibition of new works based on video footage of her parents’ wedding night. Both figurative and abstract, these works probe many of the same concepts evident in her exhibition at Shulamit Nazarian. Drawing on memory and limited documentation, Rokni’s work at 18th Street Art Center investigates this particular event with dreamlike fluidity, as the artist’s relatives demonstrate the fervency and confusion of the days just before Iran’s popular revolution gave way to its current regime.
Clavileño, at Shulamit Nazarian, finds the perfect home in Los Angeles, the epicenter of filmmaking, where cinema imitates life and vice versa. In the comfort of a darkened, theater-like gallery space the viewer, like Don Quixote, is given the opportunity to let go of earthly reality and embrace the expansive realm of his or her mind.