For the artist’s 13th exhibition with Lisson Gallery, and her first at the gallery’s Cork Street location, artist Shirazeh Houshiary is a new body of work, the first in over a decade to exclusively focus on the artist’s paintings. Unified under the title Pneuma, the show brings together a body of works that mine both haptic and optic illusions, filling the surface of each work with a palpable energy drawn from the artist’s careful study of kinetics.
The works on view arise from a meditative practice that takes breath as its medium and conceptual framework. For Houshiary, the physical manifestation of breath is the word. As is the case in each of the paintings the artist has produced over her forty-year career, at the basis of these works is a web formed from two words, superimposed onto one another and inscribed with focused repetition. To produce these finely wrought surfaces and their depths, the artist worked on the floor, moving across the canvas with a series of dense, layered marks that turned splashes of water and pigment into these dense, swirling marks, as if the body and mind are one in the creation of these subtle gestures.
The paintings in this exhibition each have the same dimensions, an extended human scale. They present a space that is at once intimate whilst seeming to move indefinitely outwards. Formally, they play host to a correspondence between parts – all five works explore a dialogue between two fields, making visible the oscillation between visibility and invisibility, existence and non-existence, darkness and light. So does the show’s title, Pneuma present as a continuous current and reflection of the energy running through the works, a liquid phenomena that is here captured as a visual movement. Here, the areas of absence appear as two worlds drawn together, held by the charge of the central intervention.
In Pieta, a penetrating tissue of markings moves between form and formlessness, the potency of the ink-blue pigment taking on a visceral quality, drawing the viewer into an interior space where growth and decay are enmeshed. Where Pneuma and Pieta have a liquid presence that concentrates in deep pools and limpid boundaries, Loci is vaporous, its surface billowing and layered. Forgetting the Word takes this vaporous quality to a new register, the pigment rendered so nebulous as to become vibration.
The show is on view through July 31st.
– D. Creahan
Shirazeh Houshiary: Pneuma [Exhibition Site]