Work of Art: Kymia Nawabi, an exhibition by the winner of the second season of Bravos Work of Art: The Next Great Artist, opened to the public on Thursday, December 22, and will be on view at the Brooklyn Museum
through February 5, 2012. Bravos Work of Art is an hour-long, 10-part, creative competition television series among fourteen contemporary artists who assembled in New York City under the watchful eye of art world luminaries to battle it out for this show at the Brooklyn Museum.
A poem by Nawabi, titled "Not for long, my forlorn," introduced this presentation when it initially appeared on the final episode of the Bravo series. Nawabis poem articulates her ideas on the cyclical nature of life, with death and rebirth as natural aspects. Her winning exhibition may be seen as an expression of her personal mythology and a metaphysical journal that explores what it means to be human.
The exhibition includes 12 paintings and two sculptures inspired by the Egyptian deity Thoth, most often represented as a man with the head of an ibis, a sacred bird in ancient Egypt. The artist appropriates for her own mythology the idea of Thoth as the god who holds the universe in balance and who greets the deceased in the afterlife. The bird and the pattern of a birds feathers are recurring motifs in her work, often in the shape of the feather skin of her figures. Sometimes, as with the sculpture of a helmet, Closerto Thoth, or the large drawing The Soul Purpose, the skin of feathers resembles blades of grass.
Nawabi also expresses the idea of the cycles of life through the use of the Ouroboros, an ancient symbol of eternity that is often depicted in the shape of a snake eating its own tail. The snake, as it appears in Nawabis poem and in her painting Have Faith in the Ouroboros, is viewed by the artist as a positive force, and the shedding of skin becomes a metaphor for the renewal of life and the passage from one form of life to the next. References to burials are common in her work: in an image of a feathered figure returning to earth or an allusion to Norse boat funerals as portrayed in the painting The Bridge. Similarly, three sculptures of soil, stone, and wood that comprise Devotional Medal, a work decorated with mirrors, maybe viewed as burial mounds.