Shahin Afrassiabi was invited by Project to create an installation in the gallery using works loaned from the Musgrave Kinley Outsider Art Collection which are housed at the Irish Museum of Modern Art. A characteristic of Afrassiabi’s practice is to investigate the functioning and transformation of objects as elements in his sculpture. As part of his methodology, both coded and explicit reference is made to art history and modernism. In the same way that Afrassiabi referred to Lissitzky’s drawings in previous works, this show sees the artist use specific works from the Musgrave Kinley Collection as a starting point, specifically an unusual drawing by Madge Gill.
Gill’s abstract drawing featuring geometric patterns, acts as a catalyst for Afrassiabi’s explorations. Having traced the forms in the drawing, he uses them as the basis for a crude wooden structure that stands in the centre of the gallery, which in turn reflects the drawing and forms a kind of frame for Michael Nedjar’s wall-mounted sculpture hanging opposite. Marginal artists are the focus of the show, which also calls into question the hierarchies that govern the reception of art and its value. The meticulously prepared yet ephemeral nature of art exhibitions is further underlined in the accompanying video piece, which features Afrassiabi dismantling his previous installation.
Outsider artists are often referred to as self taught and/or naïve. According to one leading authority, Michel Thevoz, former curator of the Collection de l’Art Brut in Lausanne, outsider artists “have not been culturally indoctrinated or socially conditioned. They are all kinds of dwellers on the fringes of society. Working outside the fine art systems they produce from the depths of their own personalities works of outstanding originality in concept, subject and technique.”
The improvised approach to this new work is not only a new move which was hinted at in previous displays but also used the same methodology as the so called outsider artists. Afrassiabi says of his work, “The world we live in is a fantasy world. I want to move away from that. What I invent is extrapolated from what exists – it’s an augmentation and a rearrangement of object/relations without recourse to metaphor or narratives – hoping to reconfigure the subject.” The positioning of works by ‘outsider’ artists in this context creates a situation in which their status becomes the subject of discussion as the misconceived other of mainstream art.
This show at Project marked Shahin Afrassiabi’s third solo show. He was nominated for the Beck’s Futures (2001) and also participated in The Whitechapel show ‘Early one morning‘ (2002) which was a defining show for a new generation of British sculptors who were re-engaging with the formal and conceptual business of making things. Afrassiabi has also participated in numerous international shows which were held in New York, Tel Aviv, Cologne and London. Group shows included ‘Conditions of Display‘, The Moore Space and Locust Projects, Miami (2007), ‘Hard Labour‘, Cell – Project Space, London (2005) and Brittania Works – Group Show, Ileana Tounta Contemporary Centre Art Centre, Athens (2004)
Works loaned from the Musgrave Kinley Outsider Art Collection, IMMA
1. Madge Gill – Untitled (dedicated to Conan Doyle)
2. Angelus – Berg, Versuch in moderner Darstellung (Mountain, an attempt to make modern representation)
3. Michel Nedjar – Untitled (doll multiple faces) Triple Head
4. J.B. Murry – Untitled
5. J.B. Murry – Untitled
Sarah Browne review of “Shahin Afrassiabi”, published in Circa
Watch the review on RTE’s arts programme, The View, 10th February 2004
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