Posted on: Sunday 29 July, 2012 2:41
|RIRA Gallery Presents New Works by Young Iranian Artists
The second exhibition at RIRA Gallery in DIFC marks the fall season and fourth month since the successful launch of the latest fine art space in Dubai. RIRA presents two separate shows by emerging young talents; photographer Melika Shafahi and painter Hooman Derakhshandeh, each with a dedicated exhibition on one level of the expansive two-storey gallery.
Shafahi's images all recite age old tales of fabled history modernized with contemporary imagination, where Derakhshandeh’s paintings lend an equal value to the human figure and the identity of women. The works present the collections as two distinct introductory exhibitions, complimented by, the curatorial aspect within the space itself that provides various viewing angles of each piece, utilizing the natural light and high ceilings of the gallery.
Derakhshandeh presents Mystic Presence, a continuation of his 'Paradox Series' where the works signify a woman's perpetual struggle between her inner and outer identities. Derakhshandeh confronts the viewer, challenging them to find the meaning behind his subject, particularly the eyes. The series of oil on canvas depicts female figures with detailed and pristine faces which lead to rough and general representations of the rest of the body, almost abstractions of space. Derakhshandeh focuses on the expression of his female subjects, the face acting like a frame, the eyes, a window, urging the viewer to garner their own understanding of the work, gleaning their own impressions of the subject.
Shafahi presents two photographic series, one based on the city of Tehran and the other inspired from the fable ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’, both of which explore the act of voyeurism in the past and present.
Modestly titled Tehran Project, which started in 2006, Shafahi’s collection of city images is purely based on her exploration of constraint, social barriers and mandated behavior of her birth city. “It is a city of contradictions,” the artist says describing the series, “Behind the eyes of its people is a yearning for freedom and observing the complicated relationship between this and their outer limitations.”
Associated with images of young Iranian women with dyed hair peeking through colored headscarves, of social restrictions, rallied revolts and such cultural clichés, Shafahi presents the side of the city foreign media choose not to or have not seen. She concentrates her lens to a social perspective, the other ‘face’ of Tehran, away from the stereotypes and overused visuals that take on a personal hue, that of the underground culture, the blurring of the reality and the dream.
Remaining on the subject of viewing, Shafahi’s second series is based on the age-old fable of the Emperor’s New Clothes, recreating the storyline through contemporary settings and connotations, yet draped in garments and props of the past. Resonating strongly with the feelings of this period, she evokes the same sentiments from the story yet visually - through the striking use of softness and shade, a pervasively dark tone in the dramatically ‘present’ setting and the almost theatrical way in which the lighting itself creates a sense of drama. In this regard it is symbolically harmonious with the powerfully affecting conditions of the era.
Each frame from these series’ has its own unique story; the relationship between the characters and the subtle interplay created by a glance of the eye, a delicate gesture, a soft light that allows the audience to conceive their own narrative. Both Derakhshandeh and Shafahi, influenced by post-social conflicts, have (re)captured personal truths and reflected them through the eyes of others.