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two women facing each other wearing pattern fabric

Project Series 52
Hayv Kahraman

On View September 4 – December 22, 2018

Los Angeles-based artist Hayv Kahraman creates exquisite figurative paintings on large linen panels that depict a singular woman with iridescent pale skin and inky black hair. Frequently presented in a group of identical female figures, the woman often appears nude or clad in shawls decorated with Islamic geometric patterns. The artist borrows from a multiplicity of styles, including Persian miniatures, Japanese illustrations, and Italian Renaissance paintings in the composition of the woman’s poses and appearance, creating a discourse between Eastern “otherness” and Western concepts of beauty.

In her most recent work, Kahraman has incorporated a weaving technique drawn from the Iraqi hand-woven fans called mahaffa—one of her few family heirlooms. In the new series, she intentionally cuts into her canvases—her painted body—and then weaves in fragments of other shredded, or dismembered, paintings, creating newly “mended” representations of female bodies and “healed” memories of past trauma.

Kahraman’s paintings take on themes of violence and involuntary migration as she processes her childhood in the war-torn country of Iraq and her adolescence in Sweden as a refugee. While Kahraman’s work is intertwined with the histories of the Iran-Iraq and Gulf Wars, it is also invested in the idea of feminine collectivity, identity, belonging, and diasporic cultural memory. For Kahraman, the figure she paints represents herself as a colonized woman. Through the body of this woman, the repetitive nature of her work, and the act of shredding and mending, Kahraman grapples with a history of displacement, loss, memory, and trauma.

Book cover Hayv Kahraman with canvas brown tan natural colors

Hayv Kahraman: Project Series 52

Los Angeles-based artist Hayv Kahraman (born 1981) creates exquisite paintings and other wall works that address diasporic cultural memory, feminine collectivity, and gender identity through her personal history as an Iraqi émigré first to Europe, then to the US. This artist's book explores how her visual language merges her biography as an immigrant in a multiplicity of styles—including Persian miniatures, Japanese illustrations, and Italian Renaissance paintings—creating a discourse between Eastern “otherness” and Western concepts of beauty. The key figure in the paintings represents Kahraman as a colonized woman; the repetitive nature of her work and the act of shredding and mending presents a history of displacement, loss, and trauma.

The book includes never-before-published images of the artist's work and her performance texts, plus new essays and poetry.

Co-published with Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects. Designed by Kimberly Varella of Content Object. New poetry by Sinan Antoon, a new essay by scholar Medina Tlostanova, a performative text by Kahraman, and an introduction by curator Rebecca McGrew.

Awards
AIGA & Design Observer: 50 Books | 50 Covers Winner (2018)

 

$35

About the Artist

Kahraman was born in Baghdad, Iraq in 1981 and migrated to Sweden with her family after the first Gulf War, before settling in the United States. She received a degree in graphic design from the Academy of Art and Design in Florence, Italy (2005). In addition to numerous group shows, Kahraman’s solo exhibitions include the Contemporary Art Museum in Saint Louis, Missouri (2017); Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Nebraska (2016); Jack Shainman Gallery in New York (2016); the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, California (2016); and The Third Line in Dubai (2016). Kahraman was shortlisted for the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Jameel Prize in 2011, and is a recipient of the Excellence in Cultural Creativity award from the Global Thinkers Forum. Kahraman is represented by The Third Line, Jack Shainman Gallery, and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects.