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New Paintings and Oil Barrels by Shiva Ahmadi at Leila Taghinia-Milani Heller
Shiva Ahmadi, "Hocus-Pocus", 2009. Mixed media on aqua board, 40 x 60 in. (101.6 x 152.4 cm). Photo: Courtesy Leila Taghinia-Milani Heller Gallery.
NEW YORK, NY.- An exhibition of new paintings and sculpture by Shiva Ahmadi will be on view from February 4 through 27, 2010, at
Leila Taghinia-Milani Heller (LTMH) Gallery. Ahmadi has created a dynamic visual language inspired by Persian miniatures and Islamic art and architecture that she uses to explore social and political issues affecting both the Middle East and the West.

Shiva Ahmadi: Reinventing the Poetics of Myth examines issues of capitalism and the glory of oil in the Middle East and as well as the dependency of the West on oil. To call attention to these issues, Ahmadi often paints on panels shaped like oil barrels or actual oil barrels, which become transformed into objects of beauty.

In 12 paintings and on three full-sized oil barrels, Shiva Ahmadi looks at the “chaos and the instability in the world right now whether it is in the Middle East or elsewhere.” Using her own symbolic language, Ahmadi deconstructs glorified figures from Persian mythology and narratives by placing them into chaotic scenes, thus removing them from their exalted positions. The delicate imagery inspired by Persian miniatures mingles with images of conflict and violence including guns, combat boots, and bleeding bullet holes.

In Hocus Pocus, 2009, a large mixed media painting, Ahmadi creates a lyrical yet riotous action-packed universe populated by elephants, camels, monkeys, snakes and birds. Another smaller painting, Green Veil #1, 2009, depicts a woman enveloped in a green patterned fabric with a sense of serenity that seems to be misplaced. One of the large oil barrels is painted a royal blue with Persian motifs and a gold medallion with a tiny figure that appears to be standing amidst streams of blood.

Shiva Ahmadi was born in Tehran, Iran, and lives in Northville, Michigan. She received her Masters in Fine Art from Cranbrook Academy of Arts in 2005. In 2008, she was nominated for the Altoid Award by the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York and received the Kresge Artist Fellowship, Detroit, Michigan in 2009. The artist’s work was on view recently at the Chelsea Art Museum in New York City in the 2009 show Iran Inside Out.

Leila Taghinia-Milani Heller | Shiva Ahmadi | Visual Language |


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