VSF is pleased to present the gallery’s first solo exhibition of the Los Angeles-based painter Amir Nikravan. Despite their impasto appearance, Nikravan’s work fuses the logic of painting, photography, and sculpture onto one deceptively flat plane. Using negative space to create a positive representation of an image/object, he produces photorealistic ‘still life’ paintings of paintings that ultimately question the legacy of art and objecthood.
Taking its title from the Photoshop command that collapses all visible layers into one conglomerate layer, Merge Visible features paintings that are constructed through the physical enactment of this directive. Materials ranging from paint to rocks are built up in layers via repetitive gestures until a temporary sculpture emerges. The sculpture is then covered in fabric, vacuum-packed, and spray painted in order to capture its topography. Finally, Nikravan destroys the original sculpture- stretching the painted fabric over aluminum in a conscious performance of itself as a painting, paint qua paint, or a painting of a painting about a painting. The resulting (Paintings) embrace indexical veracity and illusionism- highlighting the disconnect between the senses of sight and touch. This becomes evident through the seemingly sumptuous, volumetric, and optically charged surfaces that reveal themselves to be flat. What the viewer encounters instead is the object as a picture of itself; a mediated, yet vividly, presented replica that seals off the visibility of the painting’s construction.
In addition to his perception bending two-dimensional works, Nikravan will present his first sculpture Untitled (Field), which consists of 50 cast concrete pavers in the second gallery. Combining the repetitive unit based nature of his (Paintings) and the raked rocks from his Sites, Untitled (Field) presents the viewer with a direct ability to experience touch; a physical sense elicited yet denied in all his other works. However, Nikravan stays true to form in presenting an object that never fully gives way to desired expectations. The seductive and undulating raked rock patterns, which should give way to the human body and record its activity as it traverses the works surface, instead remain obdurate in a solid object state. Just as in his paintings, Untitled (Field) insists forward as a sign-image-picture of the thing itself.
Throughout Merge Visible, Nikravan’s works call to mind strange topographies from distant places. The absent layers, pentimenti, and concealed history of the object’s making highlight the inherent paradox of reproduction, as the object exists both as an empty vessel and a fully realized form. In conjunction with the exhibition, there is a new catalogue with essays by Patrick Steffen (US Editor, Flash Art) and Amanda Hunt (Associate Curator, The Studio Museum).
Amir Nikravan (b.1983) has presented exhibitions of his work at ABC Berlin, Berlin, Germany; Luce Gallery, Turin, Italy; Brand New Gallery, Milan, Italy; Greene Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CA; Pepin Moore, Los Angeles, CA; Jessica Silverman, San Francisco, CA; Contemporary Arts Center, Irvine, CA; Workspace @ Art Platform LA, Los Angeles, CA; Las Cienegas Projects, Los Angeles, CA and Infernoesque, Berlin, Germany.