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ART SEEN - 'The Grains Whirl and the Ripples Shift' - Shirazeh Houshiary

Mid Morning Mix // Art & Culture // May 23, 2016

Shirazeh Houshiary

ART SEEN - 'The Grains Whirl and the Ripples Shift' - Shirazeh Houshiary

Article by Uli Van Neyghem

Shirazeh Houshiary is an artist of Iranian origin, living in London. She initially became well-known with her contemporary sculptures in the 1980s, but soon expanded to other media like painting or video as well.

Houshiary's works can be found in a number of major museums like the MoMA, the Guggenheim, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but also in the flagship stores of Victoria Beckham or Jimmy Choo and also they decorate the windows of the London St. Martin in the Fields church.

The current exhibition at Espace Muraille, curated by Laurence Dreyfus, covers 15 paintings, two video installations, as well as 1 sculpture.

Listen to Uli's full review about this exhibition on-air on WRS here:

Houshiary is known to spend months on each of her creations, and this becomes immediately evident, when you approach her paintings to have a closer look.

What appear like colourful abstract landscapes or views of the sky with cloud formations from the far, re'veil' unbelievably intricate networks of marks done in color pencil, when you step close enough. This results in an almost hypnotic quality of her paintings, giving the viewer a feeling approaching vertigo or of being pulled in (like divers being attracted to the depth). Photos taken from far do not do her paintings justice. You need the possibility to approach and to distance yourself from them in order to really appreciate their attraction.

Language and veils are central themes for Shirazeh Houshiary.  I had heard before that the artist starts a painting by writing two words onto the canvas (one word asserting what the other denies) and then starts to cover up those words by veils of coloured pigments. I was curious to see if traces of those words would still remain visible in the finished painting. They do not.

I asked the representative of Espace Murailles as well, whether the intricate doodle marks underlying the veils or clouds of colour were maybe abstracted versions of calligraphy of letters in Arabic or other languages, but that is not the case.

'The Grains Whirl and the Ripples Shift' is an unusual exhibition in an unusual setting (Espace Murailles is a cave-like space built into the wall and foundations of the Genevan old town - not easy to find....look for the bright red wooden door), taking you into the poetic universe of an artist exploring the space between distance and proximity.

Hot tips:
You are only a very short distance away from Place Bourg de Four, the ideal location for a cup of coffee or ice cream in the sun. If you want to have a snack or light  lunch, try the beautiful terrace of Patisserie Tearoom A. Pugnier (just off the Place Bourg de Four, on the left side, walking towards the carousel at the bottom of the hill) or one of the other numerous restaurants in the area.

The Practical Details:

Espace Muraille
Place des Casemates 5, Geneva

The exhibition runs until September 17, 2016, with the following exceptions for holidays:
Closed from May 27 - June 5 and from Monday July 11 - Friday August 15.

Opening times:
Tuesday - Friday: 10:00 - 12:00 and 13:00 - 17:00
Saturday: 13:00 - 18:00

Access: Buses 3 and 5 to Athenée
If you arrive by car, the nearest parking is St-Antoine

Entry: Free

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