REMINISCENCES: Avish Khebrehzadeh

14 October - 11 November 2016

Ab-Anbar presents ‘Reminiscences’, the first solo exhibition of Iranian artist Avish Khebrehzadeh at the gallery, showcasing a selection of works from the past decade that illustrate Khebrehzadeh’s prolific artistic journey, and her first solo presentation in Iran. In the exhibition, curated by independent Italian curator Claudia Gioia, Khebrehzadeh has chosen to address the correspondence between the human senses and certain aspects of nature. The way in which this relationship is laid out in the open throughout her work, offers us a glimpse into what could speculatively be called universal memory, and posing the question of, what could be, across cultures and images, the reminiscences thereof? How could certain archetypes, gestures, forms, become symbols of human life?


Khebrehzadeh’s intensive visual research, spanning across painting and sculpture, drawing and video, and the intersections in between, takes cue from Plato and Aristotle’s early theories of memory, establishing the way in which image, drawing and memory appear ‘inextricably linked’, in words of Gioia, and how the image, whether abstract or otherwise, is a search for a universal language that aims not to resolve but to highlight and articulate the internal contradictions of seeing as a part of the larger enterprise of human culture. Addressing herself to the cultural codes of seeing, means for Khebrehzadeh, also to confront the relationship between personal history and memory, and to intervene in the natural flow of both.


In her practice, Avish Khebrehzadeh is constantly reorienting the direction from which to gaze at the human figure, and inverting temporal sequences in order to reveal the antinomies of experience. Her signature blue oil paintings on gesso and wood, (executed in 2008 and 2014), feature animal forms in ways distinct from the still life or the anatomical painting; we cannot be sure in what state do these creatures lie, whether they are in abeyance or at rest, sculptural exercises abandoned half-way on the way to a higher form, or being made of negative light. And this is characteristic to the oeuvre of the artist, where the spectral and the real encounter each other on the same plane of light. These works of the artist, among others, exist outside time frames, and exist not as objects but as pure visions. 


Other works in the exhibition, such as ‘Uncertainty 2’ and ‘Uncertainty 3’ (marker on gesso and wood, 2014) belie their identity as painterly objects and occur sometimes as paintings, sometimes as drawings, but often as dreams, or vague images seen at night. The themes however, are strongly connected to the concrete reality of the animal and human world, so that it is not possible to deny their presence, but the experience thereof keeps changing constantly. Human figures reappear confused and almost undergoing physical change, in works such as ‘Looking Unto the East’ or ‘The Princes of Perfect Peace’ (graphite, oil, pastel and marker on Kochi paper, 2013). In these drawings, the lines become almost dotted, disappearing traces. 


Recently Khebrehzadeh has begun to work with sculpture, continuing the work that had begun earlier with her transformation of 2D surfaces into animation and volume, and her most recent work, ‘The Great Mahkke’ (2016), shown for the first time in his exhibition, gives full embodiment to the traces of memory that we have seen in her work throughout the years, but the fleeting elements remain anchored, as it is evident in her large video installation ‘All the White Horses’ (2016) presented earlier this year at Fondazione Volume, Rome. Avish Khebrehzadeh’s ‘Reminiscences’ is a multilayered landscape of bodies, forms and memories that coalesce in a single moment, streamlining perception and imagination as a physical place of narrative experience. 


AVISH KHEBREHZADEH was born in Tehran, Iran (1969) and has lived in the UK, Madagascar, Italy and the United States, at present living and working in Washington, DC. Khebrehzadeh studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome and photography at the Corcoran College of Art, in Washington, DC. The artist’s most recent solo exhibitions have been held at Fondazione Volume, Rome (2016), the Galleria Civica D’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea (GAM) in Torino (2014), Sprovieri Gallery, London (2011). Earlier solo exhibitions include the Rhode Island School of Design Museum (2009) and MACRO Museum of Contemporary Art, Rome (2007). Khebrehzadeh has taken part in many group exhibitions, including “Mass Individualism: A Form of Multitude” (2016) at Ab Anbar, Tehran; “Drawing Room” (2013) at the Ursula Blickle Foundation, Kraichtal-Unteröwisheim, Germany; “The Vanishing Boundary” (2011), from the permanent collection of MAXXI, Rome, “Shudder” at the Drawing Room (2010), London, and “Momentary Momentum: Animated Drawings” (2007) at Parasol Unit, London. Avish Khebrehzadeh participated in earlier editions of Santa Fe Biennial (2010), Liverpool Biennial (2008), the Cologne Art Film Biennial (2003), 50th Venice Biennial (2003), and Istanbul Biennial (1999). The exhibition is accompanied by a catalog with an essay contributed by Claudia Gioia, curator of the exhibition.