new-york

Leemour Pelli

Daneyal Mahmood Gallery

To paint an X-rayed body, as Leemour Pelli does in the works in her first solo exhibition at Daneyal Mahmood Gallery, is to confront several of the same formal problems that Wilhelm Röntgen’s 1895 discovery posed to early-twentieth-century artists. How does such an affirmation of the inadequacy of human perception hypostatize, and up the ante on, the task of picturing the unseen? What relationships of solid/void, surface/depth, and transparency/opacity does X-ray imagery occasion? Beyond issues of form, rendering skulls and bones engages the weightiest of weighty matters, that realization had by Hans Castorp, the protagonist of Thomas Mann’s Magic Mountain (1924), upon seeing his hand under a fluoroscope: “. . . [H]e beheld a familiar part of his body, and for the first time in his life he understood that he would die.”

Pelli’s project is heavy, in other words, and self-consciously so. One

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