Emmenbrücke LU - 30 January 2010 - 6 March 2010
Samira Alikhanzadeh - With the passage of time
The Iranian artist Samira Alikhanzadeh has always had an interest in light and windows. In her current works, she presents this fascination in the form of mirror fragments: they reflect the beams of light and create windows in the picture. With this, the mirrors open the art work to their environment and viewers: they move into a relationship with the outside world through their doubling within the world of images.
As a symbolic object, the mirror always functions as a passage between the spheres of reality and dream, fairytale or opposite world. The ability of the mirror to reflect and reproduce was praised for clarity as much as for distortion. It stands between perception and illusion and the question of what is actually real is written in its entirety. Samira Alikhanzadeh knows exactly how to use this ambivalent spectrum in her work.
The artist does not even know the faces in her works; she found the photographs by chance in an old box. Within the artistic processing, the anonymous portraits free themselves from their original function and begin to depict real people, becoming a sort of model.
The historical distance between the viewer plays a part to this effect: the teased hair-dos, the then fashionable earrings, the extremely artificial beauty spots, and the general staging of times gone by, make sure we do not perceive the faces as being from our present environment; as real people.
This alienating effect is heightened by extremely vivid colours, garishly red hair and bright cherry lips in pale faces and jewellry elements in sunflower yellow. The artist attempts an almost satirically exaggerated effect. We may be reminded of Andy Warhol's portraits of Marilyn Monroe, whose facial features were thoroughly declined by diverse colours. It was as though you were looking at several different types than just one individual one.
Whole patterns result in ordered series of clusters from the faces, which belong to a larger whole in their mosaic stones. The repetition, reflection and inversion of images into the negatives are thus further steps of abstraction, where the masking strip covers the remaining parts of the recognisable individual.
The way the artist now puts mirrors in the place of the black strips has an intriguing effect on her paintings. The assumed empty space in the face is just as much a sheer surface or a place of all thinkable views. The work does not reflect the world in the framework of artistic techniques but integrates them with their whole changeableness directly into the painting.
With our own reflections, we are put in the position of the person being portrayed and look at a new hybrid of identities made of fiction and reality. And are thus embedded deeper and deeper into the image.
Julia Häcki, Art-historian, Zurich, January 2010