Not So Simple

August 5, 2020
- September 2, 2020


Fiona tights
Paint on wood

66 15/16 x 25 3/16 x 11 inches inches  (170 x 64 x 28 cm)
Signed on bottom
(Inventory #29528)

When asked for his thoughts on his 1998 work, “Fiona tights,” Julian Opie wrote the following:

Looking for a language with which to draw the human figure, I came across a set of lavatory door signs. This gave me a basic format to draw with that I then applied to images of friends and neighbours. Looking back it seems I was sorting out the rules for many future works and projects, but at the time I just wandered in fairly casually asking people to take any old pose in the outfit they happened to be wearing and photographing them front on. A single logo-like image of each individual My main aim was to have images to make into two-sided statues of people. These, I would mix in with the statues of animals and cars and buildings that I had been using to build mixed composition exhibitions. A kind of indentikit 3D form of making an interchangeable art installation a bit like a children’s game where you make a town or farm scene.

Having built a small library of people to use in this way, I then started to realise that these “people statues” had a stronger sense of individuality and character than the other more generic objects and could be perhaps used in different and stand-alone ways. I conceived a project that instead of having a mix of objects or even a mix of people, would have the same person in various poses and outfits. The first poses had come about naturally but began to remind me of portrait poses in old master paintings, while the various outfits seemed to suggest clothing catalogues or shop window displays. I asked a stylish friend of mine to undertake the project and she patiently put on all her different outfits including casual, formal and even sport clothes, accompanied by all the standing poses we could think of for each outfit. It took quite a while and led to statues, large and small.
I like it when the internal logic of a project dictates the results.

In Deference
Dye-sublimation on aluminum

Edition of 20
25 9/16 x 40 inches  (64.9 x 101.6 cm)
Signed and numbered
(Inventory #31658)

“I think some of the core subjects of my work, for example, the notions of tyranny, political injustice, fanaticism, displacement, and immigration are some of the issues that feel very relevant considering what’s going on everywhere in the world today.”
Shirin Neshat

Neshat’s earliest works were photographs, such as the Unveiling (1993) and Women of Allah (1993–97) series, which explore notions of femininity in relation to Islamic fundamentalism and militancy in her home country. Her subsequent video works departed dramatically from overtly political content or critique, in favor of more poetic imagery and narratives. Her first video installations—the trilogy comprising Turbulent (1998), Rapture (1999), and Fervor (2000)—utilize dual video screens to portray abstract oppositions based around gender and society, the individual and the group. While these works hint at the restrictive nature of Islamic laws regarding women, they deliberately open onto multiple readings, reaching instead toward universal conditions. Other videos have expanded upon this formula, presenting similarly ambiguous narratives.

For the past several years, Neshat has been exploring the complex relationship between the physical state and the psychological one. Gesture and expression are examined in literal and metaphoric terms. There is contradiction in spite of directness, and a multiplicity of powerful implications is sensitively proposed. With “In Deference,” these issues are taken to art history and also to the present. With this work, Neshat has printed the photograph onto aluminum using dye-sublimation technology. Because the dyes are transferred directly into the metal surface of every photograph, the immediacy of the technique adds a distinctive physicality to the artist’s exceptional photography.

Shirin Neshat is a critically acclaimed artist who is celebrated for her photography and work in film and video. She has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions around the world, and has also been included in important group exhibitions, such as Prospect.1: New Orleans International Biennial; 11th Documenta; 5th Lyon Biennale; 12th Sydney Biennale; 3rd Gwangju Biennale; 54th Carnegie International; 48th Venice Biennale; 5th International Istanbul Biennale; and 2nd Johannesburg Biennale. Shirin Neshat’s works of art have been acquired by many private collectors, as well as institutions, including 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa; Brooklyn Museum of Art; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal; Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León; Museum Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tate Modern, London; Tel Aviv Museum of Art; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Among other prestigious commendations she has received throughout her illustrious career, she was awarded the Praemium Imperiale Award, in Tokyo, from His Imperial Highness Prince Hitachi, honorary patron of the Japan Art Association, in 2017.

In Praise of Famous Men No More

Edition of 20
Paper size: 40 x 60 inches (101.6 x 152.4 cm)
Signed and numbered lower right in graphite
(Inventory #33194)

Letterpress print on board

Edition of 20
Image/paper size: 25 x 44 inches (63.5 x 111.8 cm)
Signed, dated and numbered on reverse in graphite
(Inventory #28828)

Untitled (Blue) [from the Anonymous series] (1)
Pigment-based photograph

Edition of 10
Image/paper size: 26 5/8 x 40 inches (67.6 x 101.6 cm)
Signed and dated
(Inventory #24999)

“Suara Welitoff’s appropriations of the past are a strategy for summoning an awareness of time as we are living it now. Her provocative works destabilize relations between past and present, between fictional and lived experience, between original and reimagined occurrences. Actions and expressions are distilled into their most reductive forms. Rejecting technical strategies for control and prevailing standards of digital perfection, Welitoff embraces the formal potential of accidents and inaccuracies, including pixilation and audio-visual glitches, viewing them as chances to improvise. Her works reveal a revisionist aesthetic and underscore the role of subjectivity in creating meaning. At a time when the acts of selecting, modifying, and recirculating are increasingly central to creation and communication, Welitoff’s works invite us to consider how our sensory relations to the mediated world are forever under revision.” (Susan L. Stoops, Independent Curator of Contemporary Art)

In the work included in “Not So Simple”, Welitoff takes a found media image out of context and abstracts it to produce a blurred, schematic and monochromatic patch of color in motion, freezing a brief instant of an action.

Suara Welitoff (b. 1951, Jersey City, New Jersey) lives and works in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Since 1998, her work has been included in exhibitions and screenings throughout the
United States and Europe. Her one-person exhibitions include shows at Krakow Witkin Gallery, Boston; Anthony Greaney, Somerville, Massachusetts; 186 Carpenter, Providence; Document, Chicago; James Harris Gallery, Seattle; Le Rete Projects, Milan; the School of the Museum of Fine Arts/Tufts University, Boston and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She has participated in group exhibitions with Galerie Anita Beckers, Frankfurt; Regina Rex at Bunker259, Brooklyn; Marburger Kunstverein, Marburg, Germany; deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, Massachusetts; Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, Massachusetts; Strozzina CCC, Florence; Performa 05 at Participant Inc., New York; NGBK, Berlin; Threadwaxing Space, New York; and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston.

Welitoff’s works are in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Worcester Art Museum; deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum; List Visual Arts Center at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge; Deutsche Bank, New York; Fidelity Investments, Boston; Barr Foundation, Boston; and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, in addition to numerous private collections. Welitoff is the recipient of several prestigious awards including the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum Rappaport Prize (2012), the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award (2009), and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts Maud Morgan Prize (2002).

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