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Zoe Blair-Schlagenhauf

Shadi Yousefian – TRANSFORMATION – Opening Reception

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Pallid 11, 2020, Paper, Paraffin Wax, and Epoxy Resin on Wood Panel, 36 x 36 in

Public Opening:

Sunday, June 6th.
2 – 7 pm
at The SPACE by ADVOCARTSY

No RSVP Required, Free and Open to the Public.
The exhibition will be on display until July 11th.

To request a preview catalogue,
email info@advocartsy.com

 

ADVOCARTSY is pleased to present TRANSFORMATION, a solo exhibition by Shadi Yousefian that surveys a diverse array of new works from ongoing series that directly confront cultural identity and the immigrant experience. Expanding upon her previous work, these never before exhibited pieces draw on reservoirs of personal experience to explore the fluid, often abstract concept of collective consciousness and universal identity. This is Shadi Yousefian’s second solo exhibition with ADVOCARTSY and in Los Angeles.

 

Artist Biography

Shadi Yousefian was born in Tehran, Iran in 1978 and moved to the United States when she was sixteen. At a time when she lacked the language skills in English to express herself, she felt drawn to art to express her longing, her vision, and her experiences. She received both her Bachelor’s (2003) and Master’s (2006) of Fine Arts in photography from San Francisco State University. Shadi’s work engages personal and social issues of contemporary life, particularly, cultural identity and the immigrant experience. As an Iranian immigrant, her work reflects and addresses issues that touch on universal themes such as loss, dislocation, alienation, and reinvention. Her training in photography has given her a unique perspective on ways to employ and explore photography as a medium within larger sculptural and installation pieces.

Shadi’s work has evolved to include mixed media in combination with photographic prints as well as incorporating other materials such as wood panels, glue, canvas, and light boxes to create larger and more sculptural pieces. In her most current work, the Letters and Memories series, her subject matter has not significantly changed, but in these new series, she has moved from a more spontaneous expressionistic approach toward a carefully planned minimalistic and repetitive approach. All of Shadi’s work to date reflects the desire to capture and distill some of the essence of her own life as an immigrant, but to also connect it to a more universal experience.

Her work suggests and builds upon a kind of fragmentation and dissolution, but also the endeavor to reinvent and reconstruct a self in a new social and cultural context. In each of the series, Shadi uses techniques that appear to destroy and distort something of the whole—cutting up letters, using only specific features of a photograph, scratching a negative, etc., she reassembles them as parts of a new image that captures both memory as passage of time, and memory as the willful looking again at something anew. This process conveys a mirroring effect of the past and present, articulating both a distortion as well as a reconstruction.

Statement from the Artist

Shadi Yousefian’s work engages personal and social issues of contemporary life, particularly, cultural identity and the immigrant experience. As an Iranian immigrant, her work reflects and addresses issues that touch on universal themes such as loss, dislocation, alienation, and reinvention.

In her early works, Shadi showcases her struggles with an identity crisis that she experienced after moving from Iran to the U.S. Her stylistic approach of her earlier photographic works such as Self-Portraits I and Self-Portraits II series clearly conveys her discomfort and uneasiness with this dislocation. In these earlier series, Shadi uses photography as a medium for self-expression rather than mere photographic representation in order to express the complexity of her feelings towards her subject matter. By cutting, scratching, applying glue, then printing from reassembled and manipulated negatives, she creates highly expressive pieces that speak to the viewer of her frustration with two identities to which she felt no clear sense of belonging.

Following her Self-Portraits series, she created the Universal and Examination series which also dealt with the issue of identity but this time on a more universal level. In these series, Shadi explores the idea that identity is not fixed, but rather much more fluid and dynamic. She took pictures of different people, of different genders, nationalities, and ages, and cut and manipulated the negatives, and reassembled them into “negative collages” which were then printed on canvas (in the case of Universal Identity series) or transparencies (in the case of Examination series). These images capture that fluidity of identity that depends on the viewer’s perspective and their ability to see beyond a single aspect of a person and their physical presentation. Perhaps, these two series served as a turning point in Shadi’s life as an artist and as a person, helping her to make peace with her double identity and move towards a more serene state of mind, which is apparent in her subsequent works, the Letters, Memories, and Diaries series.

Although her subject matter has not significantly changed, in these later series, she has moved from a more spontaneous expressionistic approach (as in her Self-Portraits I and II series) toward a carefully planned minimalistic and repetitive approach. In all of these series, she is presenting something extremely personal (such as letters, album pictures, and diaries) in a very universally comprehensible style using repetition and simple geometry. The process of destroying and repurposing something so precious serves as a therapeutic and meditative ritual which helps her stay present while reflecting on her past.

All of Shadi’s work to date reflects the desire to capture and distill some of the essence of her own life as an immigrant, but to also connect it to a more universal experience. Her work suggests and builds upon a kind of fragmentation and dissolution, but also the endeavor to reinvent and reconstruct a self in a new social and cultural context.