Shirazeh Houshiary

Galleria Minini

These pieces by Shirazeh Houshiary, a young Iranian artist who works in London, are presented as “sculpture” in the traditional sense of the term. They tend toward closure, toward a formal autonomy independent of their surroundings; their direction is one of concentration rather than expansion. In their self-satisfaction they favor rounded, curved, full forms, with some schematic anthropomorphic references whose drama is smoothly resolved. The discourse on material is decidedly more interesting than that on structure. Houshiary works with an impasto mixture of mud and straw which enlivens his surfaces, giving them roughness and breaking the works’ excessively formal stance.

The pieces of straw seem like short directional arrows which, in their disorder, their multiplicity, and the interweaving of their paths, function to contradict the structures’ autonomy by suggesting the power of the individual detail. Again, the blades of straw reflect light, which is fractured by the multiplicity and chance arrangement of the fragments it strikes; in a sense the result is painterly, conveying a sort of impressionistic gesturality within the works’ monochrome surfaces. This duality reveals the dominant characteristic of Houshiary’s work—its contradictory nature. Yet many of the contradictions he leaves unresolved seem to me to express problems of clarification of the artistic language he has chosen to use rather than any objective condition within a discourse on form. In this sense his work seems to be in a developmental stage. Houshiary runs the risk of expressive oversimplification in his structural elaborations, but his investigations of surface, and of the quality of material—investigations in which his work proceeds in almost existential fashion—seem promising for the future.

Luciana Rogozinski

Translated from the Italian by Meg Shore.