New York City’s Elga Wimmer PCC with Group Show: ‘Material Culture’

Mary Hrbacek
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Aida Izadpanah, Alignment series, Handmade, fired, painted porcelain on wooden board, 12 x 12,” 2019

Elga Wimmer PCC presents “Material Culture,” an exhibition of five Iranian artists, curated by Roya Khadjavi that includes staged photographs, installation photography, porcelain sculptural reliefs, minimalist abstract art and abstract porcelain landscape paintings. The term “material culture” implies that the artists do not visualize their outcomes in advance, but rather their art emerges through the working process, by means of intuitive experimentation in which clues for resolution ensue from the materials. The show includes works by Massy Nasser-Ghandi, Aida Izadpanah, Maryam Khosrovani, Dana Nehdaran and Maryam Palizgir.

Materials radiate with the energy of those who manipulate them. Their palpable unseen potential is tapped as it unites with the artists’ emotions, ideas, character, interests and mental states, in conjunction with the inherent stimulus of the unformulated matter. The final forms are often decided when the artists’ need for the given process reaches fruition. While the exhibition has roots in the artistic tenets of post-modern globalization, the impression of Iranian culture infuses a core subtext, etching its handprint to the presentation platform.

Right: Aida Izadpanah, Alignment series, Handmade, fired, painted porcelain on wooden board, 12 x 12,” 2019 

In her prodigious “Alignment Series,” Aida Izadpanah alludes to Iran’s heritage by creating fine-textured fired porcelain in volumetric hand-crafted forms with rich patinas that transport the underpinnings of the past to contemporary life.  Gold-infused reliefs simulate the finds in an archeological discovery. The artist recognizes the mythic tie between clay and the human spirit in tensions linked to porcelain, from fluidity and fixity to desire and fulfilment.

Izadpanah has forged twenty-seven hand-fired porcelain wall-mounted fragmented reliefs, strikingly volumetric, that protrude assertively from graphically painted colored 12 x 12” square mounts. The pieces occupy the edge between art and design. These wall works proclaim their destiny as independent statements that nonetheless form a commanding unity.  Archeological fragments give a purpose that becomes clear when they are pieced together into functional forms that give insights into the lives of ancient peoples.  The present-day fragments instill a send of wonder and ambiguity at the possibilities they intimate in their own right.

Left: Aida Izadpanah, Alignment series, Handmade, fired, painted porcelain on wooden board, 12 x 12,” 2019 

Massy Nasser-Ghand’s nature-inspired abstractions evoke a sense of European art with a contemporary ethos that brings her experiences of life in France into play.  Her Iranian roots emerge in the choice of liquid porcelain plate to render redolent abstract inter-woven skyscapes and seascapes that evoke bands of clouds, sunsets disappearing in the last light of dusk, and rolling surf with foaming white breaking waves.  The horizon is subsumed by thickly applied textural plate clouds that hover above a tide that seems to be advancing.

Right: Massy Nasser-Ghandi, An Interpretation of the Horizon, Porcelain Plate, 31 x 15 cm 2018

The pictorial environment, at times suffused with heavy darkness and dull light, is not always entirely pristine. His piece “Interpretation of the Horizon” resembles an aerial view of a ribbed vertical mountain range seen at twilight; the vertical ridge disrupts expectations of a traditional horizontal sunset. The unpainted white ground of the format accentuates the relief of the central mountain that morphs into pure abstraction.  Union with nature seems to be Nasser-Ghand’s obsession. The artist’s affinity for dark tones imbues her works with a consciousness of the mysterious unknown intrinsic to natures, moods and moments.  Nasser-Ghand’s employment of porcelain aligns his work with the porcelain art of Aida Izadpanah.

Dana Nehdaran’s works are linked to his past experiences by his attraction to the rusting underpinnings of architectural ironwork and rebar beams that have riveted his attention in New York City.  Nehdaran’s new works explore the oxidation of iron, Fe26, in his process-based minimally envisioned white abstract paintings, whose surfaces conjure sensitively rendered incidences within whimsical, softly carved square shapes. The dissolution of the rust corresponds to the fading of past memories. As iron powder transforms into a rusty liquid emulsion, it is partially absorbed along with oil paint that fades on canvas, to create a look of layered age and partial distress, which is further accentuated by the iron dust.

Left: Dana Nehdaran, A Square, Fe26 series, 30 x 27 x 2,” Iron powder and oil on linen, 2018 

The effect appears to be a result of natural processes, of rain-drops that have puddled up on a surface.  The installation of nine works also presents unusual deconstructed pieces whose exposed wood frames resonate symbolically with the bones that support the human body. The tacked, flayed and partially covered frames elicits a way back to psychic or spiritual wholeness.  The cloth canvas can be viewed as the wrapping for a wound that is progressively healing.

Maryam Khosrovani’s Le Vide series, a photographic installation project, provides a glimpse of a woman, undergoing what may be an intricate process of birth and regeneration. Her pale pristine body is encircled with pure white tissue paper piled all over and around her. In this act of redemption, the tissue paper may relate symbolically to the tissues of her body.

Right: Maryam Khosrovani, Le Vide series, Installation photography, 60 x40 cm, editions of 5 + 2 AP 2017

Khosrovani’s ambitious sizable “Close to the Ground” photographic installation of densely hung, deep-box frames simulates the claustrophobic ambience the artist experienced on arrival in New York City.  Small photos display views of lonely-looking buildings where vestiges of human habitation are revealed in lines of air-drying laundry.  The photos of empty window scenes are interspersed with framed abstract white plaster prints which replicate identical shapes produced by the realistic laundry compositions. These pieces speak to philosophical questions about the meaning of humanity’s footprint as we focus on our daily tasks. The missing element in the plaster prints implies traces of spirit that persist even after habitation ceases, in an eerie city where hanging garments disclose evidence of mortal tenancy.

Maryam Palizgir’s staged photographic “Epiphany Series” creates “moments of insight” in modern-day replicas of architectural interiors that invoke “cathedrals” of illumination which express ethereal energy in reflective light beams of interacting colors and transparent shadows.  The format’s architectural features recall the modernity of the original Bauhaus school by the essence of their stripped structures that create fresh, airy, life-renewing space.  The subtle volumetric movements of shimmering fabric produced by tones of light resemble the disrupted surface of rippling water. Plexiglas panels produce a sense of redemption through their radiant, immaterial, yet propelling presence. The glow of modulated yellow, infused with softened turquoise and green, recalls moments when colored light intersects the pure white of Matisse’s chapel in St. Paul De Vence, France.

Palizgir’s archival pigment prints on canvas display woven cloth threads infused with textural richness and delicacy.  “Epiphany #7992” displays thinly applied painted veil cloth which is imbued with hope of resurrection by its symbolic shades of yellow and violet, integrated with purple hard-edged shapes.  The work creates majestic complexities whose overriding ease and fluidity hint at philosophic questions touching on reality of a future existence.

Right: Maryam Palizgir, Epiphany #0084, Archival Pigment Print on Canvas, Edition of 8 + 2 AP, 2018

The “Material Culture” exhibition investigates the process of artists working through their inner intuitive spirits. The canvas and stretchers, the porcelain, liquid or solid, the photographic apparatus form the external skin of the proceedings.  Underneath their mantel, the networks of life’s energy and the mind’s intensions foment, to bring unexpected realizations to the public. The artists transcend their materials’ boundaries to bring fresh dimensions of reality into existence.

 By Mary Hrbacek, Contributing Writer

‘Material Culture’ at Elga Wimmer PCC, through April 18, 2019

526 W 26th St #310, New York, NY 10001

Phone: (212) 206-0006

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