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Shirazeh Houshiary asks the crowd how many colors we think she uses in the paintings and sculptures in her latest exhibit, “The Eye Fell in Love with the Ear,” open now at Lehmann Maupin Gallery in New York.
Someone guesses 24, another person 13, and lastly a young boy says “Nine.” He is the closest. Houshiary says she only uses five colors, although by looking at the spectrum in her DNA helix sculptures and colossal, intricately woven paintings, you’d think there were hundreds.
The Iranian born artist has a kind of extrasensory way of envisioning art. Her monochromatic paintings are deceptively minimalist, yet so exquisitely crafted that they are in reality, maximalist. Pieces of thread intertwined in large-scale paintings make her work elaborately detailed, yet organic, like the design of the human eye.
Houshiary conceives of her work aerially, that is as though she is playing God: she wants her work to be an extension of nature. Echo, a multi-textured piece, appears as an aqueous map of the ocean floor.
She seeks to examine the relationship between the specific and the general, seeing and sensing patterns that appear in streams, skies and sand. In her work she likes to capture the process of forming and deforming, the inevitable activity of life and decay.
Her three double-helix sculptures are organically created, as she creates the base elastic structure, but allows the objects to “choose their own shape.” She talks as though the pieces have a life of their own, like children who are born but decide their own paths. The sculptures complement and pick up the hues of her paintings, and the series looks especially interconnected looking down from the view of the second floor.
Her short film “Dust” plays with the linear Aristotelian narrative, conveying the past, present and future simultaneously. Through this lens, elements of the unseen are captured, as the viewer is able to incoherently move through time and space.
“The Eye Fell in Love with the Ear” will be at the Lehmann Maupin Gallery on Chrystie Street through December 28.
Cover image: Echo, 2013, courtesy of Lehmann Maupin Gallery.