Last month, Sarah Schroth, our Interim Director and Nancy Hanks Senior Curator at the Nasher Museum, traveled to the Venice Biennale. Following is her third post on art and installations around Venice that caught her attention.
One should not miss the collateral event sponsored by Lisson Gallery held in the impressive 19th century Torre di Porta Nuova across the canal from the main Arsenale. Iranian artist Shirazeh Houshiary presents a series of new delicate, complex paintings and a 4-chanel video entitled Breath. In a site-specific installation, a structure made of heavy black cloth raises up within the Torre’s vaulted ceiling. Inside the dimly-lit space, four monitors hung at eye level show abstract shapes, write on black, that are animated by the sound coming from each monitor—evocative chants of Buddhist, Jewish, Christian and Islamic prayers. As the voices rise and fall, the image on the screens expand and contract—the entire effect is incredibly haunting and emotional. In the labor-intensive paintings, Houshiary begins on a black or white ground, inscribing in pencil very small, intricate calligraphic chains formed from words that loop around and over one another until they become like veils, over which bursts of pigment are superimposed. There is a luminous energy to these works, and a solid connection to the Breath installation above them, as they too seem to breathe, exchanging air around and below the surface.
EXHIBITION CREDIT: Shirazeh Houshiary, Breath, at the 55th Venice Biennale. 1 June – 24 November 2013. Sponsored by Lisson Gallery, London.
TOP AND MIDDLE: Shirazeh Houshiary, Between, 2010-11. Pencil, pigment and black acquacryl on canvas and aluminium, 190 x 540 cm. Installation impression, La Torre di Porta Nuova, Arsenale di Venezia, 2013. © The artist; Courtesy, Lisson Gallery, London.
BOTTOM: Shirazeh Houshiary, Breath, 2013. Four-channel video installation, 675 x 400 x 543 cm. Installation impression, La Torre di Porta Nuova, Arsenale di Venezia, 2013. © The artist; Courtesy, Lisson Gallery, London.