By Tara Biglari
The Iranian-American artist Andisheh Avini’s exhibition — “Homesick,” at the Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York — explores the artist’s dual identity and his complicated relationship to the past.
In one of his large-scale installations, Andisheh has built two wall-mounted domes that incorporate elements of Islamic architecture. Elsewhere, he shows ogee-shaped canvases that evoke Persianness.
Based in Brooklyn, Avini (born in 1974) works in painting, printmaking, sculpture, and has previously shown at other galleries worldwide.
Kayhan Life recently spoke with Avini about his life and career
Q: How does your Iranian heritage inspire your practice and style?
A: I am very lucky to come from a heritage that is full of color, pattern, poetry, and a history that reaches back thousands of years. I feel that as an Iranian, I can immerse myself in all of this, and be proud that anything I take from this vast history has at its core value beauty, and a certain hospitality ingrained in every Persian.
Growing up in New York, my family kept our heritage very close to home. We spoke Farsi and ate Persian food. My mother did an amazing job of merging Persian and Islamic traditions with Western aesthetics. These were the building blocks of my [creative] style, which I think comes through in the exhibition.
Q: How is this reflected in ‘Homesick’?
A: The paintings are in the shape of windows that can be attributed to Islamic architecture, which gives them an immediate identity. The carpet scene feels familiar to Iranians. We can sit on the floor around our cherished carpet and eat or have tea and discuss everything from politics to poetry — laugh and cry and be hospitable to our guests.
The domes on display are dislocated from their usual [surroundings] – kicked off their axis and hanging on the wall. This way, I explore the idea of a dual identity, something almost all of us living outside of Iran have to deal with and understand.
Q: What does being Iranian mean to you?
A: I rely on many memories and stories told to me by family, because I have not been to Iran in so long. I use this as well as the aesthetics of my heritage to explore and answer questions of identity through art: what being Iranian means or being Iranian-American means.
New York is my home, my family is my home, but I am Iranian at my core. There are many of us that have to figure out this balance of being part of an enormous culture, but being far away from the everyday effects of our heritage.
Q: Is there one message you hope audiences take away from this exhibition?
A: I hope that no matter what the visitors heritage may be, they can understand how memory has many layers, and how tradition is the glue that holds them together. It has helped me answer the questions of identity, and complete the idea of home.
For more information on the exhibition, visit the link below: