Andisheh Avini

I-20 is pleased to present a series of new paintings by Andisheh Avini. This is the artist’s fourth solo exhibition at the gallery.

Avini’s artistic practice includes painting, sculpture, and installation. His subversive employment of materials culls anything from antique parlor house paintings and earth from the holy site of Mecca to classical craft-based techniques, each somehow specific to an idea of Iranian sensibility, history, identity, and memory.

In his new series of silkscreen paintings, Avini sourced iconic newspaper photographs from spring 1979 marking the homecoming of the Ayatollah Khomeini that followed the ousting of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi. While these images have been widely disseminated in the media, Avini reevaluates the associations that they invoke thirty years after this transformative event and tempered by current developments. As much a personal recollection as a collective one, this cycle of paintings provokes intensely personal reactions to instantly recognizable images that have become engrained in the historical archive.

In a constellation of over twenty paintings, each individual work renders one image inseparable from the other, constructing an entropic narrative of events. Historic photographs of Khomeini’s arrival are paired with repeated crops of his eyes enlarged to monumental proportions, while a scene from a traditional myth hangs adjacent to a scene of an American flag being burned. Silkscreened on canvases painted to invoke newsprint, Avini reminds the viewer of the original context in which these images first appeared while developing an alternative understanding of these events.

Other paintings from this series verge on the point of abstraction. Re-using the same printing screen, hands reaching to salute Khomeini are repeated to the point of illegibility, rendering them as much formal devices as reminders of the volatile political landscape of Iran. In another work, Avini neutralizes a scene of blindfolded American hostages by rendering the scene as a monochrome, transforming it into a modernist abstract canvas.

Andisheh Avini was born in 1974 and educated at Hunter College.  His work has been exhibited in Empire and Its Discontents (2008), Tufts University Art Gallery, Medford, Massachusetts; Theatre of Cruelty (2007), White Box, New York; “The Gold Standard” (2006), P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York; and Six Feet Under – Autopsie unseres Umgangs mit Toten (2006), Kunstmuseum Bern, Switzerland. He lives and works in New York.