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A Review of Nairy Baghramian's Show at Nasher Sculpture Center 

Author : Sale Sharifi

Reading Time : 3 Minutes

Original text in Farsi by Sale Sharifi

Translated to English by Omid Armat

From February 5  to May 1, 2022, Nasher Sculpture Center hosted a solo show by Nairy Baghramian who is selected as Nasher Prize Laureate. Baghramian has found sculpture to be a proper expression tool for her art. There is a strange and contradictory situation in her works, including various references to human, daily life, architecture, history, society, and politics. 

Nairy Baghramian | Misfits N | 2021 | varnished cast aluminum, walnut wood from Danh Vo's McNamara project, C-print in artist frame | 122 × 65 cm


During her three decades of continuous artistic activity, Baghramian has experimented with various techniques. In the last ten years, she has used silicon plates, casting, molding, and stones to create sculptures. This indicates that publicity concerns do not prevent her from exploring and experiencing.  



Positive and negative space is one of the notable features of her work. Similar to how the rests work in music, she provides room for thinking by implementing negative spaces. We can trace the human figures back to her previous works, but the subject of her sculptures created in 2020 is deeply moving: some parts of the body are bent or destroyed; just like knees and elbows which age and become painful, besides joints that are always susceptible to harm. By using stone, Baghramian has created curved forms and connected them together with some rods. Negative space plays an essential role in these sculptures. It makes us feel that we are facing a medical situation. At the same time, we remember our own bodies and look at a visualized experience of pain and harm which does not have any apparent unpleasantness but conveys its harshness through its meaning and the process of thinking about the sculptures.  



The body has also inspired Baghramian in creating another series of sculptures called "Dwindlers" (presented in an exhibition titled "Breath Holding Spell"). They need some external structure since they cannot stand on their own bodies. So they are attached to the walls, columns, and ground using metallic pieces which are, therefore, as important as the sculptures themselves. These sculptures convey pain more explicitly and their positive and negative spaces play a significant role in the environment that they are installed in.  

Nairy Baghramian | Dwindler Dizzle (Blue/Green) | 2021

Baghramian is inspired by architecture in most of her works. As a hypotext, architecture is always present as the subject of her works; they are always related to the interior or general architecture. She forms dualities in all her works, such as exterior and interior, woman and man, pain and health, private and public, firm or weak.  

According to the Nasher Sculpture Center, the Coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent closures were among the challenges in nominating Baghramian as Nasher Prize 2022 Laureate, because the subtleties of her classical sculpture art are meant to be present in the space and their conceptual challenges actually require the viewer to be physically present in the show. Nevertheless, conditions caused by the pandemic have also added to the conceptual dualities and have conveyed a sense between presence and absence! 


Baghramian's artistic activity involves different materials and meanings, but form is the main expressive element in all her works; an appearance which includes deep, impressive inner characteristics and is also spectacular and glamorous on its own. Regarding the form, her artworks are based on abstraction, in addition to some familiar references. In some of her works, avoiding naturalism reminds the viewer of abstract paintings. Nairy's contemporary view is formed by technical issues of classical sculpture art, new abstract forms and deep concept-oriented approach and what attracts the attention to Baghramian's work is the way she engages with sculpture.  




Cover photo:

  • Nairy Baghramian | Jumbled Alphabet | 2021 | C print in artist frame | Source: www.mariangoodman.com