Lehmann Maupin would like to announce an exhibition of new work by Shirazeh Houshiary. This is Houshiary’s second solo exhibition at the gallery and it includes new paintings and her first animation film installation.
Shirazeh Houshiary was born and raised in Iran and moved to London in 1974 to study at Chelsea School of Art. After graduating, she rapidly established herself as one of the leading artists of her generation. Initially known for her sculpture, her first works on canvas date back to 1992. She has had solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, Camden Arts Centre in London, and the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich, among others, and was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1994.
Houshiary’s canvases can neither be described as paintings nor defined as drawings. It is as if she has divested the canvas of all its painterly associations and returned it to its natural state as cloth from which an image, neither depicted nor delineated, imperceptibly emerges. The shimmering surface entices the spectator towards a veil traced in graphite or ink. Houshiary typically immerses herself in one of the larger canvases for several weeks, executing the graphite “drawing” in a slow dance around the canvas, which is laid on the floor, or by bending into it as if in prayer. These are not fashionable gestures toward shamanism, but part of a practical process that has evolved naturally over the years. In her earlier work the “marks” with which she created patterns on the canvas were composed of minute sacred words, repeated like a mantra. In the more recent works, words and forms are dissolved and light is released.
The chants kept mute in Houshiary’s paintings are animated in a four-screen video installation entitled Breath. Each screen visualizes the movement of breath as mist expanding, contracting, and shimmering as a vocalist offers invocations from different cultures and religions. On approaching different screens the breath of the spectator merges with that of the vocalist, momentarily sharing breath of different cultures.