New space dedicated to Iranian contemporary art opens in Los Angeles.
Advocartsy, founded by Roshi Rahnama, launches its exhibition programme in its new art space with a solo show by Iranian artist Shadi Yousefian, running until 22 October 2017.
Well located in a busy downtown Los Angeles location, Advocartsy proves the potential of new art spaces to shake up the local art scene. The venue is dedicated to supporting Iranian contemporary artists and opens with a solo exhibition of emerging artist Shadi Yousefian. The Space will act as the permanent home for the nomadic curatorial project Advocartsy Art Brief – a series of exhibitions dedicated to promoting the work of artists born in Iran or of Iranian heritage. Art Radar talked to Advocartsy Founder Roshi Rahnama and the artist Shadi Yousefian, showcasing in the inaugurating exhibition space.
Asked how the Advocartsy space fits into the wider network of institutions supporting Iranian contemporary art in North America, Roshi Rahnama explained:
In the US there are very few platforms that dedicate their programming exclusively to Iranian contemporary arts, considering the depth of this work. Being situated in Los Angeles, with the largest community of Iranians outside of Iran, we felt the need to address the void and lack of representation for these community of artists, with a dedicated and focused program to not only benefit the Los Angeles art community but the international art world as well. […] We feel that we are trailblazing in that sense, as we deal with a body of work within a region that can only benefit from being introduced to a broader and more diverse range of collectors.
Shadi Yousefian was born in Tehran in 1978 and received both her Bachelor’s (2003) and Master’s (2006) of Fine Arts in Photography from San Francisco State University. Her work engages personal and social issues of contemporary life, particularly, cultural identity and the immigrant experience. Yousefian moved to the United States when she was sixteen.
Throughout the following decade, art practice became fo her a vital means of negotiating experiences of displacement, alienation and loss. Her training in photography provided a formal frame through which to express and experiment with these notions. The works on display in the current exhibition at The Space by Advocartsy are a mix of photography, collage and larger sculptural or installation pieces that incorporate other materials such as wood panels, glue, canvas and lightboxes.
In her most recent work, the “Memories” series, her subject matter and formal decisions have shifted towards more abstract modes of working. Shadi Yousefian explained to Art Radar how the portrait-based and figurative work intersects with the repetition and abstraction methods she is currently exploring:
My earlier figurative works such as Self-portraits series reflect the identity crisis that I experienced as an immigrant. These pieces are full of scratches, textures, and burns conveying the inner conflict and frustration that I felt at the time. Perhaps, after working on my Universal Identity series, I started to make sense of my identity and realize how one’s identity is affected and shaped by universal experiences and not just by moving from one culture to another.
My minimalistic style started with my Letters series in 2006 when I had reached an inner peace and I was ready to let go of all the memories that for years had been defining my identity and connecting me back to my home country. For me, my letters, photo albums and diaries were the objects that connected me to my past and so they were the ideal materials to incorporate into my new series. The tedious and repetitive process of reading through piles of letters, cutting them into small fragments and organizing them in a composition lent itself to a minimalistic style.
In both the “Memories” series and the “Letters” series, Shadi Yousefian uses techniques that involve partially destroying a material (photographs, panels, canvas or negatives) in order to create it anew. The aforementioned work “Letters” (2006–2017) uses real letters from family and friends received and sent over twenty years. Art Radar asked if the impetus to work with original and historical documents came from a desire to rewrite and fragment history or rather to memorialise it. Shadi Yousefian responded:
For me, it’s almost a therapeutic ritual to destroy something so near and dear to my heart, yet preserve and memorialize it in a different form, an abstract minimalist composition. The tedious physical act of cutting, gluing and nailing of all of these letters is itself a meditative therapeutic ritual for me. In two of these pieces, Letters 5 (Sinking Memories) and Letters 17 (Sinking Memories), I also introduced another element, epoxy resin, to convey a sense of sinking of the words and bursting of fragile bubbles of memories.
Asked why Shadi Yousefian was selected to inaugurate the Advocartsy permanent space, Founder Roshi Rahnama commented thus:
I chose Shadi Yousefian’s Solo Exhibition as the inaugural show for the space because of her expansive body of work directly dealing with cultural identity and the immigrant experience, which is both universally relevant and timely. Her intimate combination of personal experience with social and political issues results in a skillfully confrontational energy while utilizing minimalism, photography and collage as a way to mediate that encounter.
With her photography, sculpture and installation Shadi Yousefian explores formally what characterises the experience of migration and displacement: interrupted affect, narrative diversion and the sometimes painful interplay between destruction and creation. Her work, like the work of the Advocartsy platform and art space, contributes to a deeper understanding of the “diasporic” as the practice of knowledge creation and creativity as well as loss.
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- “Where there is love, there is pain”: Lebanon’s pop artist Marwan Chamaa in Dubai – April 2016 – mashup of Western pop iconography and romantic lyrics popular Chamaa’s bold canvases at solo show
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