Iranian-born, London-based artist Shirazeh Houshiary returns to Lisson Gallery this month for a show of new works at the gallery’s New York location on 24th Street in Chelsea, continuing her nuanced exploration of architectural and gestural interactions. Reflecting on physical and immaterial qualities that shape art and human life, the artist’s work in her new show draws on dualities of structure and chance, friction and fluidity, and the nuances of space that both bound and interact with the work itself.
At the center of much of the artist’s work is an interest in the skin, both as membrane and conduit, a space where touch can both serve as a mediating action or a point of separation. Rhythm and gesture serve as prime interests, with the artist’s pieces constantly walking the fine line between the interruptions of chance, and a rigid sense of repetition. This duality is perhaps best seen in the separation of the artist’s sculptures and paintings in the show. Her painted canvases, created by voluminous pours of paint and water onto flat canvases, show the artist using the washes of color as a space for continued elaboration and interaction, juxtaposing complex interlocking patterns into these chance creations by her own hand. The works emerge as an embellishment on her original actions, turning sudden punctuations of color and form into repetitive, complex structures.
By contrast, Houshiary’s sculptures turn lock-step repetition into a spatial investigation of its own. Her objects are formed through repeating elements, as if creating space from a series of pixel-like components. The result are structures that twist and fold, swell and sink in their delicate movements through the air, each informed by slight variations in the curvature and surface of the bricks designed for the piece. While the clear chance constructions of her canvases explore a sense of movement and vitality in their explosive, flowing movements, these pieces seem to explore a more meditative engagement with space, one where a sense of form emerges gradually from its constituent parts.
If there’s a coherent voice that springs from both bodies of work, its that of a patient, meditative exploration of form and its construction, unified in Houshiary’s awareness of the act of making. These are pieces distinctly ground in the sensation of construction and evolution that grounds the process of creation, but often sits just outside its purview. By highlighting each work’s moments of interaction with the artist’s hand, and even her occasional absence from the process, Houshiary’s works feel constantly informed by a life of their own.
The exhibition is on view through December 22nd.
— D. Creahan
Shirazeh Houshiary: Nothing is deeper than the skin [Lisson Gallery]