We are pleased to announce our second participation in Artissima 2018 (Dialogue section, Booth 3), Italy’s most important contemporary art fair, where we present a two-person interchange between Farhad Ahrarnia and Shaikha Al Mazrou. The presentation combines two artists whose practices draw upon the formalism of Modernism and Constructivism to examine space and balance. Their practice includes a return to hands-on production, the contextualization of materials, and explorations of form, balance, colour, and movement.
Dance as an expression of modernity has been an integral part of Ahrarnia’s practice for the last ten years. In 2013 he was invited by the National Gallery of Uzbekistan to visit Tashkent and examine and respond to the legacy of early 20th century modernity and modernization of Uzbekistan under the Soviet regime.
As part of this residency he looked into the culture and legacy of modern and contemporary dance in an Uzbek context researching archival images of dance performances and gymnastics, selecting and working on photographic depictions of female performers across several generations.
The result is a series of never before exhibited photographic images, printed digitally onto large panels of canvas and overlaid with patterns of embroidery, threads and needles. The series titled When Abstract Entities Circumambulate Her Charm is inspired by the compositions of Malevich and Kandinsky (for their Soviet links) as well as traditional Uzbek patterns. By depicting young bodies in challenging situations and calculated postures that demand a high degree of balance he introduces a web of references, which suggest arrested motion, entrapment, entanglement, acceleration and tension.
Through Al Mazrou’s sculptures, configurations and use of materials she explores the interplay between tension and space. The key focus of her field of inquiry originates in the concept of uncertainty and expectation. Fascinated by notions of physical space, her sculptures and installations materialize as simple gestures that emphasize the representation of tension, weight, equilibrium and space. For Artissima, she will present new sculptural works composed of marble and glass that continue these investigations.
Combining rigorous concept with a renewed emphasis on formalism, the work of these artists prioritizes the visual and visceral qualities of art-making. The booth presentation lends itself to a certain dynamism - between male and female, the figurative and abstract – that is both conceptually and visually arresting.