Shirazeh Houshiary


pencil and pigment on aluminum
11 3/4 x 11 3/4 x 1 5/8 inches

Since the early 1990s Shirazeh Houshiary has been making paintings and drawings that evoke universal human experiences. Working on the floor over the canvas, Houshiary begins these works by drawing Arabic words that she repeats in delicate layers over an acrylic ground. The colored pencil markings are woven like a chant, their minute reverberation transitioning from legibility to invisibility to create an immersive immateriality in works like Presence. The form of these works as well as the meaning of the words themselves are not of primary importance to Houshiary; rather, they are a starting point for an encounter with the sublime: “I set out to capture my breath, to find the essence of my own existence, transcending name, nationality, cultures.” Here, the calligraphic marks loosen in the center of the work to reveal a dark ring that collapses and disappears. With its play between lightness and darkness, form and formlessness, Presence invites extended contemplation and manifests a perceptual experience of the intangible. Lauren Hinkson, Associate Curator at Guggenheim Museum

[excerpted from]