Curated by Murtaza Vali, this exhibition of recent works by Kamrooz Aram and Seher Shah could easily be mistaken for yet another critique of modernism’s ideologies, myths, and utopian flops. However, it distinguishes itself by adopting a distinctive approach to the highly analyzed canon, using modernist tropes such as the grid, chevron, and line to re-examine history.
Shah’s drawings deconstruct modernist architecture by combining geometry with notions of repetition and pattern that are often associated with ornament. The gridded fields in many of these works, particularly in Emergent Structures: Capital Mass, 2011, resemble overpopulated cities. Overlaid on their orderly formations are geometrical black motifs that dominate the surface, as if to place the imaginary sites under siege. Similarly in Aram’s paintings, gestural decorative flower motifs compete for space with large monochromatic shapes. In Aspirations in Black and Red, 2012, for example, thick brushstrokes sweep over floral depictions and keep the viewer’s gaze in a constant state of flux. Still, the work is balanced by a flat, red sphere that hovers over the picture plane.