BIG THINGS AHEAD: TARAVAT

May 5, 2011

all of this year’s televised revolutions have forced the west to notice a huge part of the world we have been ignoring for years: the youth of the middle east! but sf-based artist, taravat talepasand, who grew up in a persian home, has been raising the issues of the first-generation identity crisis since the mid-2000s. her work is irreverent, risqué and more than a little political, but there’s no better way to create a conversation that we don’t want to have than by throwing it in our faces.

a graduate of risd and the sf art institute, her meticulously produced work pushes cultural limits by exploring her own personal identity and duality as an iranian-american woman in a globalized world. her female figures, which are all self-portraits, demonstrate this duality quite well: veiled, legs wide, stripped or stripping, they are all objects of desire, sometimes pornographic, sometimes modest, and always somewhat confused as to where they belong. veils and masks play a central role, layering forced and inherent identities and culture, shrouding, peeling back, or revealing. the notions of the body and sexuality also come into play here, creating complex meaning for both audiences, east and west.

her traditional technique and references to art history create another dynamic of duality between the past and the present, modernity and tradition, echoing the muddled identities of her figures. while in iran, she studied with a persian-minature painter and continues to work with the traditional colors and techniques of the renaissance, including one of the world’s oldest types of paint, egg-tempera. juxtaposing classical busts and robes with graffiti, pinocchio, a bong, and other western iconography, the imagery of two polar generations conflicts and mingles, urging us to consider our own taboos, stereotypes, and those of a distant audience. what would the clerics think?!

about this new series of paintings, she writes:

The new work has been inspired by Iranian clerics suggesting a “cultural campaign” against Iranian women and their Westoxication. My new interest in sculpture follows the words of Lynda Benglis, “What if I was my own subject and my own object, looking back at the men and the viewer in general?” This presents the effect that desire can have on an object. In the end, I am the Corrupt Minority.

there really couldn’t have been a better time for this work to be shown. there is a marked maturity and subtlety in these works that is a slight a departure from her in-your-face drawings and paintings of the past years. the crudeness has been taken down a notch, but in world where a few kids on twitter can bring down entire political systems, maybe our attention doesn’t need to be attracted in the same way? either way, i find her paintings undeniably relevant and intriguingly beautiful.

her new solo show, the corrupt minority, opens this friday, may 6 at the steven zevitas gallery in boston! congratulations, taravat!!!

Name: taravat talepasand
Age: 31
Hometown: Portland, Oregon
Where are you right now? How’d you get there? San Francisco. Fate. Graduate school for painting/drawing at San Francisco Art Institute.
Where are you going? Boston, Steven Zevitas Gallery.
What will you be doing when you get there? Celebrating The Corrupt Minority
Who/what/where was the inspiration that lead you in this direction? Inspiration comes from experience, either from myself or from others, either from Islamic Clerics or Iranian blogging. All of my senses are involved; hearing, seeing, reading and speaking. Inspiring people are Brett Reichman, Kurt Kauper, Neo Rauche, Terry Powers, John Defazio, my love Kevin McElroy and my parents.
How are you feeling? Are you excited? Nervous? Terrified? Thrilled? Excited, so fucking excited. I’m very proud of the new work. I’m not afraid to make changes, to be honest and meticulous.
What kind of expectations do you have? None and too many.

Are you scared of anything? Scared? Never.
What’s the worst thing that could happen? The best? I was hit by a car this November while crossing the street. The show was scheduled later due to the accident. Doctors advised me to begin working after six months. Despite the advice, I was motivated by the belief that a work of art can convey a particular emotion or state of mind. I feel that paintings can create an unmediated connection between the artist and viewer, something increasingly rare in a world flooded with mass-marketed images. They permit the mutual vulnerability of shared emotion, capturing a thought or sensation from the artist’s life and engendering it in the viewer. I feel that this kind of singular experience is endangered, and the goal of my work is to uphold the tradition of sharing direct experience through works of art.
What are you taking with you/leaving behind? Weed. TVAT
What did your friends say when you told them? That I am a prolific corrupt minority.
ARE YOU READY? Absolutely Yes.

images via alarm press & steven zevitas gallery.

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