'Shirazeh Houshiary: Rhizome' at The Long Museum, Shanghai, China
18 February 2023
On 5 March 2023, Shirazeh Houshiary opened her first major museum exhibition in China this Spring, at Long Museum, West Bund, running until 7 May 2023. Exploring philosophy, cosmology, geography, physics and faith, Houshiary’s solo show features new large-scale paintings, complex, composite sculptures and a monumental, immersive sound and film installation. Rhizome begins with the work Breath (2003/2013), a four channel video depicting hand-drawn animations that represent the inhalations and exhalations of vocalists chanting multi-denominational prayers. First shown in this configuration during the 2013 Venice Biennale, Breath is within a black box draped in felt, its walls representing the four points of the compass and the meeting point of world cultures.
Houshiary’s other works presented in the exhibition all date from the last three years of artistic production and include ambitious new organic and architectonic sculptures in glass and aluminium, such as the nine-part Maelstrom (2022) that depicts the growth of life at a cellular level, as well as the spiralling, crystalline tower of Pneuma (2022). Recent paintings include the deep red interior worlds of Zygote (2022) with the cosmic compositions in green and blue, where Houshiary’s palette mimicks nature’s elemental force of growth and origin – from algae and blood to air and water. Houshiary’s painterly process, developed over the artist’s forty-year career, begins by pouring pigment across the canvases before adding layers of inscriptions on top of the sediments and shapes formed by this liquid ground. Two words, the physical manifestation of breath, are repeated, layered and interwoven.
On the exhibition’s title, which signifies an expanding, never-ending network of roots and possible paths, Houshiary says: “The rhizome is a map. It's a map of life. This mapping is actually what nature does in following various paths and evaluating their potential. So if you can reveal this process of networking and re-evaluation at the centre of one's own psychology, then you can begin to unveil your own thoughts and all its folds.”
'Shirazeh Houshiary: Rhizome' runs from 5 March – 7 May 2023
For more information, please visit Long Musuem's website.
Image © Shirazeh Houshiary, courtesy Lisson Gallery. Photography by Alessandro Wang.