Bob van Orsouw

Shirana Shahbazi

08 Jun - 27 Jul 2013

© Shirana Shahbazi
C-print on aluminium
framed in black glazed maple frame, behind non-reflective glass
168 x 210 cm / 66 1/8 x 82 5/8 in
Between Daylights
8 June – 27 July 2013

Let us focus on the vague feeling that there could be something exactly where there is nothing. Let us consider the possibility that where non-knowing reigns there is always an opportunity. With her photographic works, Shirana Shahbazi moves beyond artificial unity and hoped-for definitude. Her pictures are characterised by a simultaneity and an integrity of explicit depiction and abstract form. Her art is no completed synthesis, but a synthesis as endless task – a hybrid entity. Colour fields of a spatial nature form the background to fruits in all their unfathomable corporeality. Other works draw on a juxtaposition of images, where we suspect a true connection will never result in a unity. Shahbazi’s pictures transform naive hope into the realisation that an undisguised gaze always entails holding out.
Just like her depictions, the production of her artworks is informed by processes of interaction. Photography and painting both have been constants throughout her artistic career. Especially in her early works photographs are turned into paintings and back again into photographic depictions. Photographs she has had woven into carpets, which she has used as negatives for silk screens or turned into lithographic wallpapers. The exhibition room too has on occasion become an element in her work. And abstract compositions of planes have sometimes been given a new level in the form of a wall priming serving as a backdrop.
Time is not a sequence of images here, such as film would have it, but all of time is concentrated in every single picture. The finished object is the process, which it makes visible. The observer of Shahbazi’s art is confronted with such movement in stasis. She presents us with fruits, flowers, animals, skulls, or bead chains as still lives, which indeed are deprived of all movement, so that something shines through that evades all meaningful description, or duration.
In her 4th solo-exhibition at the Bob van Orsouw Gallery, Shirana Shahbazi continues on her way towards abstraction, without getting anywhere near two-dimensionality. As in all her other works, analogue photography is the artistic medium that stands at the end of the production process. Her depictions possess a genuine topography that is based on the portrayal of real bodies. Thus two black spheres, for instance, sit on a black surface and only a shimmer of light makes them appear and stand out. Or the artist arranges monochrome polyhedrons and planes, so that we observe them not as an illusion, but as a game of perspective. In spite of, or indeed because of, the sharp contours in her pictures we suspect that there is no juxtaposition, but only an interplay, no matter how much the transition looks like a borderline.
Whereas the abstract often appears as the anti-subjective, as the impersonal that is, Shirana Shahbazi maximally condenses the subjective to a point close to its disappearance and thus achieves an extraordinary degree of personality.
The French philosopher and Nobel laureate Henri Bergson aimed to define a correlation between materiality and life in human existence that also becomes visible in Shirana Shahbazi’s art – the relationship between intelligence (materiality, abstraction, geometry) and instinct (life): “There are things that intelligence alone is able to seek, but which, by itself, it will never find. These things instinct alone could find; but it will never seek them.” The living synthesis of intelligence and instinct Bergson called intuition. Shirana Shahbazi’s pictures stand for a striving of this kind.
Shirana Shahbazi was born 1974 in Teheran, Iran. At the age of eleven, she moved to Germany. She studied photography, first in Dortmund and then in Zurich, where she also lives today and has her studio. For her works she has received prestigious prizes, such as the Citigroup Private Bank Photography Prize (2002). She took part in the 50th Venice Biennale (2003) and has had exhibitions in notable museums e.g.: Museum of Modern Art, New York (2012/2013), Fotomuseum Winterthur (2011), New Museum, New York (2011), The Hammer Museum, UCLA, Los Angeles (2008), Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam (2008), Barbican Art Gallery, London (2007), Centre d’Art Contemporain, Genf (2005), Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago (2003).

Stefan Pabst

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