Shirazeh Houshiary

26 Feb – 23 Mar 2013

Jhaveri Contemporary and Lisson Gallery are proud to present the first solo exhibition in India by the renowned Iranian-born, London-based artist Shirazeh Houshiary.

Houshiary’s work inhabits the interstices that separate presence and absence, being and not-being. Employing a range of media incorporating painting, sculpture and animation, her work arrives out of a desire to capture the intangible essence that underlies existence.

Houshiary’s compositions, whether finely wrought skeins of pencil and pigment, armatures of aluminium that torque between form and enigma, or fleeting digital apparitions, evoke impossible topographies. Though elusive and visually confounding, Houshiary’s works are invested with a vital energy that, while exposing the limits of human perception, registers as an intensely physical presence.

In her show at Jhaveri Contemporary, Houshiary will present Breath, an animation first conceived in 2003. Presented across four screens, the work choreographs the evocative chants of Buddhist, Christian, Jewish and Islamic prayers with images of the expanding and contracting breath of the vocalists. The prayers of the different traditions rise and fall, swell and dissipate in a haunting chorus, penetrating the fabric of the space beyond and unfurling in the round. Sound and image combine to communicate the work’s rich fabric of narratives, which includes an engagement with spirituality in its abstracted and embodied, universal and specific forms.

The exhibition will also include a suite of seven new paintings entitled Presence and a dramatic new larger work, Origin

Houshiary’s paintings both insist on and deny being read. Beginning always with a black or white acrylic ground, she uses pencil to inscribe layers of text: intricate calligraphic chains formed from two words – one an affirmation, the other a denial – crushed upon one another until they transform into diaphanous veils, which are laced with bursts of pigment that seem to seep out from the centre of the canvas.

The Presence series charts a shifting iteration of Being: forms appear to both emerge from nothingness and simultaneously recede into it. The spectre of presence punctures the gauze-like graphite membrane that hovers on the paintings’ surface, creating a liminal breach and essential rupture.

In Origin, textual inscriptions snake and swirl like synaptic webs around torrents of vivid blue pigment, harnessing a luminous energy that gives rise to chromatic vibration. The white ground punches through whirring networks of pencil marks, exceeding the boundaries of the canvas and dissolving into infinite space.

Shirazeh Houshiary was born in Shiraz, Iran and has lived and worked in London since the mid-1970s. She studied at Chelsea School of Art and has been awarded Professorship at the London Institute. She was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1994. Her work can be found in major public collections, including MoMA, Guggenheim, the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, New York; The British Council Collection, London; the Museum of Contemporary Art in Prato, Italy.

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