Mally Khorasantchi – Recent Paintings
Walter Wickiser Gallery
Sep. 1, 2024 - Sep. 26, 2018
Few visual artists would be bold enough to confess that one of their main aims is to ‘confuse the viewer’. Yet this is exactly what Mally Khorasantchi does in her brief preface to this exhibition.
Yet in many ways these intricate compositions seem extremely well ordered, Their bold rhythms make them satisfying to look at. They are visual experiences that have something to deliver, even at the moment when one first encounters them, but which also offer a lot to be further explored. Part of this duality is due to their mingling of the figurative and the abstract. They read as compositions that are basically abstract, but one’s eye picks up details that are without a doubt figurative.
Essentially this intricate layering offers a metaphor for the way in which we absorb and correlate the forms and colours that we encounter in the quotidian world around us. Yet it also suggests ways in which our accustomed way of seeing can be frozen at some point during the process of transformation. These paintings are fully organised rhythmic designs, in no sense chaotic. But they incorporate within themselves the possibility of chaos.
What this means is that they have instructive things to say to us, despite being what most people would describe as abstractions, about the ways in which we perceive and relate to what is around us. The intricate layering of images and different surfaces contributes to this. The density of surfaces invites the eye to linger. More than this: it tends to make the painted image seem at least fractionally different each time you return to it.
This is important, at a time when the whole idea of abstraction in art is going through a crisis. Essentially what abstract art did in the 1970s and 1980s was to embrace a reductionist vision of what art could and should do. Critics and theoreticians of art increasing felt, not only that art should be non-representational but that it should be drastically simplified, standing firmly apart from any desire to reflect what could be experienced elsewhere in the visible world,
This tendency is, to some extent at least, still with us. Abstract art – abstraction pursued for its own sake – stands apart from other forms of supposedly ‘progressive’ forms of visual expression by its willed indifference to social issues, though these have been increasingly embraced by what is still self-described as avant-garde: largely it seems for want of some better label.
Khorasantchi’s work stands firmly apart from this. Rather than being simplified visually it is quite complex, but this complexity is presented in a confidently orderly way. She is interested, not in making images of things-as-such, but in sensations. That is to say, more specifically, in how the world of things communicates with and is embodied within, a world of feelings. These feelings are triggered in a wide variety of different fashions, Sometimes, by a shape or a colour, or by a combination of shapes and colours, rhythmically deployed on a surface. Sometimes, more specifically, by a recognisable object.
She understands, however, that encounters between the self and the world that exists independently outside the boundaries of the self can happen in a multitude of ways.
Though, as I have said, recognisable images appear in Khorasantchi’s production, which hovers between painting and collage – that is, it makes use of direct appropriation – very often one sees them only out of the corner of one’s eye, because her compositions are so densely and intricately layered.
They drift into the viewer’s consciousness, then disappear.
That elusiveness gives them a special quality, a unique, teasing dynamism, which in turn makes the experience of studying them unique.