Magazine article Artforum International

Setareh Shahbazi

Magazine article Artforum International

Setareh Shahbazi

Article excerpt

98WEEKS PROJECT SPACE

Toying as they did with notions of time, space, depth, distance, and displacement, the works that made up Setareh Shahbazi's first solo exhibition in Beirut could more accurately be considered a single installation functioning as a spatial intervention. The 98 Weeks Project Space, run by the cousins Marwa and Mirene Arsanios, is essentially a hole-in-the-wall, a tiny storefront in the neighborhood of Mar Mikhael, with a bathroom and a set of stairs leading to a study area furnished with shelves, makeshift tables, and mismatched chairs.

Although Shahbazi was once aligned with one of Lebanon's leading galleries, Sfeir-Semler, she says that at this point in her career she prefers to realize new work in more ephemeral, less institutional spaces, where more playful experimentation is possible. She also lives upstairs from 98 Weeks, and that helped turn "I'm Glad That Things Have Changed" into a performance of the labor that goes into making such a show. For days before the opening, one could catch sight of her painting walls, hanging images, arranging objects, or hopping on and off the elevator with a tray of coffee cups and a macchinetta in hand. To stress the significance of seeing an artist at work may sound romantic or sentimental, but it makes sense in this instance, as the work in "I'm Glad That Things Have Changed" displayed the different seams and stages of Shahbazi's creative process.

For nearly a decade, the artist has perfected an idiosyncratic form of digital painting, using a mouse and the most basic tools in Photoshop to transform old scanned photographs into sleek, highly graphic compositions. By the time the final images are printed, nothing of the original photographs remains except the basic shapes of certain objects and figures. The completed pieces resemble Pop art, industrial design, or pages from a stylized children's coloring book. …

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