previews

  • “SIAH ARMAJANI: FOLLOW THIS LINE”

    Walker Art Center
    725 Vineland Place
    September 9 - December 30

    Curated by Clare Davies and Victoria Sung with Jadine Collingwood

    Iranian-born American sculptor Siah Armajani is one of those artists whose work is so conceptually rigorous that it can often intimidate more readily than please. He is best known for his monumental sculptures in public spaces, many of them doubling as functional architecture (a bridge in Minneapolis, a lighthouse on Staten Island) while delivering polemical messages or damning critique (such as Fallujah, 2004–2005, an antiwar work inspired by Guernica with a spritz of Duchamp). Yet for six decades, Armajani has made smaller, more intimate works in his studio. Central to this show, his first major retrospective in the United States, these pieces are easier to read and fascinatingly tactile, particularly those comprising the rougher, more charming series “Dictionary for a Building,” 1974–75, maquettes that explore the structural elements of a house through tiny arrangements of bits of wood and cardboard scraps. The inclusion of works on paper from his youth in Iran, where he studied calligraphy and Persian miniatures, lend an exilic complexity to his oeuvre, which is otherwise focused on democratic principles and the small-town typologies of American life.