By Armond Marke
Art and war come together in the city that never sleeps to recreate a visual story of an artist and her struggles to find herself and the roots she long ago claimed in Iran in 1965. Her history and connection with her homeland and the wars throughout history collaborate for a self-perceptive story untold, her own.
B²OA is a 1,000-square foot lower level gallery located on West 26th Street and Tenth Avenue in Chelsea, under the High-Line park in New York City. On view at the gallery throughout October 4th are the works of Iranian born and New-York based artist Samira Abbassy; Conflicting Narratives: Series of Eternal War, a collection of four of the artist’s five sequenced oil-paintings on gesso panels.
“This is an exciting exhibition to have, particularly at this time coinciding with real-world events in the Middle Eastern region, said Andrew Blaize Bovasso, gallery manager of B²OA.
The exhibition, organized by Thorsten Albertz who is an owning partner at B²OA, brings together four Eternal War series, each culled from their respective collections: The Burger Collection, Honk Kong, Hilger NEXT, Vienna, and a private collection in New York. New for 2014 is her latest addition to the series, The Fifth Circle, which focuses specifically on miscommunications in the media, and advancement of technology and communications as a facet of weaponry in our modern wars.
After graduating from Canterbury College of Art, she began showing in London where she trained and then in 1988 emigrated to the United States, settling in New York where she helped found Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts Studio Program where she currently maintains her artist studio. Feeling disconnected from her home country, Abbassy relives the search for her identity through her artistry.
When asking Abbassy about her start as an artist, and why she has an inherent drive to create a lasting career as a studio artist, she said, “I don’t know why, I only know how. As a child, I loved getting lost in drawing/painting & still do. And now, making art has become a necessity.” Her favorite tools? “My mind, eyes & hands, in that order.”
The Eternal War Series exhibit was influenced by The Shahnameh, a long epic poem written by Persian poet Ferdowsi between c. 977 and 1010 CE, also the national epic of Iran.
“When I started the series, I thought I would start off in brown and add color, but soon realized that the marks would be overwhelmed by the intense color used in the original Shahnameh. The brown oils and sepia tone can be found in the entire series representing dried blood and also in correspondence with WW1 and WW2 sepia photography,” Abbassy said.
Other influences mentioned were “Sacred paintings of Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist traditions amongst other outsider art.”
Bovasso also said “adding a variety of color to these works would add information that would distract the viewer from the very poetic concept of these panels, which, Abbassy intends for the viewer to be able to change the order of the panels to create undulating narratives within the same set of images—an infinite amount of stories of war that are ongoing, universal, and also misleading.”
Abbassy writes in her personal website, www.SamiraAbbassy.com, “The story of History itself can be retold or “mistold” by its various presentations in our museums and therefore the subject is as much about “History being retold by the victor” as of mythologies around war Martyrdom.”
The exhibition is on view at B²OA throughout October 4th. The gallery is free and open to the public from Tuesday through Saturday, 10-6PM.