Within the Threshold

Within the Threshold
Solo Exhibition: Azadeh Gholizadeh
Chicago Artist Coalition

In 1958 Lucio Fontana slashed a stretched canvas creating a violent act, a sincere gesture, and in a single moment, complicated the flat picture plane as the point of departure for painting. Fontana confronted the taut canvas and made an elegant destructive mark—exposing the picture plane as a pliable form that conceals a mysterious space behind it. With his Modernist sensibilities, Fontana was looking for a ‘reality’ or ‘truth’ in the medium.

There are interesting parallels between Azadeh Gholizadeh and Fontana’s approach; however, by cutting and tearing the canvas Gholizadeh connects with reality in a different way than Lucio Fontana had. Gholizadeh reveals her interpretation of the space behind the canvas, exposing layers of mirrors, melted plastic, and wire. It is behind the canvas where she creates a space that is more compromising than delicate, and more hybrid than perfect—proving its distance from Modernism through a totality that is much more ambiguous than pure. The work relates to a type of entropy of Minimalist aesthetics through fictional destruction.

Gholizadeh does not inject her emotions in the work—in a sense of expressive marks— rather she investigates the physical foundations of a work of art and the emotions that those properties evoke. In a sense, she is not revealing layers behind the painting; she is revealing layers inside the painting. Her torn canvases cannot hold a rendered still life or landscape, nor can they hold an abstract composition. She is exploring the medium through its foundations instead of its potential on the surface—strengthening the concept of the canvas as a veil, while questioning a painting as an object.

Gholizadeh exposes layers behind the canvas as a type of unveiling. A veil is a physical and social construct that forms, not only one’s status and identity, but also a sense of social distancing from others. The metaphorical relationship between the veil and the canvas serves as a foundation to explore the process of unveiling personal facades. In both instances this concealment is compromised—when looking through the tattered surface, one finds a mirror—or as Gholizadeh suggests, “the moment we are aware of ourselves.” In this instance the ‘inside’ has transcended the literal flat surface and has fused with the outside world through the discovery of one’s own image.

The sense of discovery in the artwork suggests a liberation of personal constraints. Gholizadeh reminds us that we bear the burden of unveiling who we are. Perhaps, when one finds what is behind the canvas or veil, one also discovers what is supporting it—it is not a stretcher, a wall, or a wire, but ourselves.