“Blazing Grace” in London

© concept: Shoja Azari, Painting: Shahram Karimi, Coffee House  Painting 2009, still from video installation East Central/London and LTMH/New York

© concept: Shoja Azari, Painting: Shahram Karimi, Coffee House Painting 2009, still from video installation East Central/London and LTMH/New York

For Londonites: The work of Iranian artists Shoja Azari and Shahram Karimi will be shown at the East Central Gallery from January 15-February 27. From press materials:

The show, entitled “Blazing Grace”, reflects on the futility of war and the trauma of a violated land, focusing on the Gulf war in 1990 and the Middle Eastern region more broadly. The exhibition is the result of an ongoing collaboration between the painter Shahram Karimiand the video artist Shoja Azari.

Five artworks from the so-called “Oil Series” will surround viewers, re-creating a cinematic experience through the canvases’ glow of mesmerising colours. Referring to the first Gulf War, and presented in the darkened subterranean floor of East Central, the “Oil Series” depicts scenes of deserts aflame, with fires scorching the skies, smoke billowing in the wind, a soldier disappearing into misty horizons and tanks reining over ashen land. When the Iraqi troupes retired from Kuwait they set afire 737 oil wells, which burned for months and months.

The works sample images from Werner Herzog’s film “Lessons of Darkness”, with scenes slowed, edited and reframed by Azari, projected as brief looping videos onto Karimi’s hyperrealist paintings which are literally brought to life, while Karimi also interweaves on the canvases barely decipherable lines of his own poetry written in Farsi, evoking intuitive thoughts lying underneath the surfaces.

Exhibited in its own enclave in this seminal show is the video projection “Coffee House Painting”, another creative collaboration between Azari
and Karimi, which was then recreated as a video projection by Azari. Rich in political and historical references, and equally critical of global
politics, the work is inspired by the traditional Persian coffee house paintings that were popular in early 20th Century Iran and which spoke of
heroes and villains from Persia’s epic history of myth and legend.

Gallery details here.

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