Galerie Peter Kilchmann
Zahnradstrasse 21, CH-8005 Zurich
tel. +41 44 278 10 10
September 2 - October 21, 2017
Galerie Peter Kilchmann is pleased to present for the first time a solo exhibition by artist Shirana Shahbazi (born
in 1974 in Tehran, lives and works in Zurich). Her investigations on the perception of images and the boundaries
of the photographic medium create space for an interplay of different photographic styles and subjects, that, in
their heterogeneity, are not subjected to any hierarchical order. Her practice is characterized by a substantial
diversity of production processes that are able to co-exist simultaneously with intriguing naturalness. Shahbazi
will present a new group of works that for the first time combines her different working methods to create an
overall visual experience. On view are C-prints and lithographs that break the boundaries between abstraction
and figuration, between photographic staging and the capturing of the fleeting moment, creating a coherent
It is a pictorial world of intangible surfaces, textures, materials and objects that confronts the viewer with his own
consciousness as well as with the perception of reality. In the works on view, we encounter primarily motifs,
whether figurative elements or geometrical forms, that have been deliberately taken away from their narrative
contexts. We come across scenes that move beyond abstraction: a girl walking, the close-up of a young woman -
scenes that, out of habit, our eyes would want to categorize as records of social moments; but by trying to find
out about the story behind, we are lead to a misleading discourse. Instead of deciphering a certain image,
questions arise, such as why a motif appears twofold, cropped, or as if reflected by a merely discernible surface.
Random everyday images are suddenly integrated in the process of a precisely staged studio shot and appear
not less abstract than the distorted irregularity of an edgy striped pattern.
The principle can be likewise reversed: through constant alienation pictorial image spaces are created that make it
difficult to distinguish between reality and illusion. We encounter a laminar, mat green composition, with its soft
curves and curling edges drawing parallels to the moving structures of a landscape. Another work awakens
thoughts of deep blue tidal waves, would the pale-shimmering of its foam not be interrupted by placative, pinkcolored
surfaces. Red and blue rigid longitudinal stripes are suddenly soft and rolling. Single image fragments
appear to be arching three-dimensionally out of the pictorial plane or to be penetrating into it at an infinite depth.
Color patterns that appear to be two-dimensional are given a haptic structure, and seem to be dissolved, deformed
and segmented in unpredictable ways. Vigorous colors turn to simple black and white, are reduced, somehow
misplaced. The result is a perceptual irritation that affronts but does not restraint. On the contrary, the viewer is
encouraged to leave his usual point of view and approach the image on a new semantic level. These are image
worlds that demand a longer discussion and open up thoughts.
Shahbazi determines with a painstakingly rigorous compositional approach, how the works are hung and displayed.
In her conceptual practice an all-important medium is thus added to the medium of photography: the medium of the
exhibition. For the exhibition in the galley parts of the walls have been painted in colors specially developed by the
artist: night blue, traffic red, silver gray and so on. By hanging the geometric studio photographs on colored walls
Shahbazi creates a situation that can either be viewed in its entirety from a distance, or by stepping closer and
glancing back and forth. There are several things going on at once and the composition shifts from the image to the
wall, and vice versa.
On view in the third room are black-and-white lithographs from the series "Tehran North" (2015-2017), whose point
of departure is a stay by the artist in Tehran in October 2015. The series is like a subjective road movie captured
from a car driving through the Iranian capital at night. It offers a black and white kaleidoscopic vision of Tehran's
urban landscape. Although remote and unknown to many, Tehran comes across to be as common as any other
city: housing areas, illuminated shops and billboards, highways and facades vanish either in darkness or in bright
light, slipping away from any decisive representation. Uncanny encounters clash with everyday banality. The
mysterious is at the same time forced and undermined, suppressing any exoticism.
Shahbazi's works are represented in the collections of major institutions worldwide such as the Museum of Modern
Art, New York, Tate Modern, London, the National Museum of Photography, Copenhagen and the Migros Museum
for Contemporary Art, Zurich. The KINDL Center for Contemporary Art, Berlin, is currently dedicating a
retrospective to the artist entitled "first things first". In 2016 the Museum Camera Austria, Graz, presented the solo
exhibition "Shirana Shahbazi: Groupshow". In 2015, in the context of the solo exhibition "MONSTERA" in the
Kunsthalle Bern, Shahbazi's lithographic works were presented for the first time. In june 2017 she did a colorful
overall installation in the exhibition space of PARKETT Editions in Zurich, including a selection of art works, that is
open through October 23. On November 3 the Museum Fotogalleriet will open a major solo exhibition by the artist
in Oslo, Norway. Since 2005 Shahbazi has been known for her art projects in public space. In 2015 she
participated in the remodelling of a bank in Zurich (Zürcher Kantonalbank) and in 2017 she designed the walls of
the offices of the new Zurich branch of the Axel Springer publishing house. The catalogues published on occasion
of her solo shows at KINDL and Kunsthalle Bern are available in the gallery.