3 days to the ending
20 Apr - 20 May, 2022
A child in the dark, gripped with fear, comforts himself by singing under his breath. He walks and halts to his song. Lost, he takes shelter, or orients himself with his little song as best he can. The song is like a rough sketch of a calming and stabilizing, calm and stable, center in the heart of chaos. Perhaps the child skips as he sings, hastens or slows his pace. But the song itself is already a skip: it jumps from chaos to the beginnings of order in chaos and is in danger of breaking apart at any moment.
Allegories, Walter Benjamin famously tells us, "are, in the realm of thoughts, what ruins are in the realm of things. And, in the work of Hadi Fallahpisheh, allegory emerges in the tension between darkness and fable, where the sweet and apparent innocence of its subject quickly shifts from benign to perverse. For Fallahpisheh, darkness is a material. “I practically grew up in a darkroom, a mysterious place that stank of chemicals. ...a kind of jail." His practice is multidisciplinary. He works across painting, photography, sculpture, performance and installation to shape narratives that read as fables. Each tell a story. But none square to any singular reading. They speak of things and the impermanence of their respective meanings. Empty and dim, like a vessel's interior.///
Fallahpisheh produces paintings in blackout conditions. What presents as quickly rendered linework, is in reality, hours spent in isolation with photosensitive paper, color gels and a flashlight. The subjects take the form of archetypes-a house, a bedroom or a landscape-inhabited by a cast of recurring characters-a human, a mouse, a cat and a dog. The works tell a story of a quasi-family unit in bouts of soft violence and conflict, where scenes of antagonism and togetherness play out against each other and recede to contrasting themes of defeat and victory, anxiety and certainty.
Throughout the exhibition, Fallahpisheh deploys clans of stuffed animals that suggest familial units. They are seen blissfully wide-eyed and wedged inside ceramic vessels. With Young and Clueless (a moniker Fallahpisheh has repeatedly ascribed to previous similar bodies of work and exhibitions.), two outer pots squeeze a third interior vessel, suspending the form mid-air. The soft, pliable object collides in hard, delicate forms.
Fallahpisheh's work hinges on serialism and repetition-most directly in the stacked ceramic pots in Couples, where a central spinal structure results from a series of playfully glazed anthropomorphized vessels. The totems flex avatar-like through height and headwear. And while the relational circumstances depicted in the pairings are unknown, they don't forfeit a sense of the social or the possibility of exchange and communication.
Framing the photographs and sculptures are antique quilts. As symbols for warmth and shelter, textiles gesture to quaint interior decor and symbolic family heirlooms. As silent recorders that vibrate with memory and nostalgia, the quilt reflects each body it drapes and touches. Embellished with abstract imagery and playful pattern, the talisman recalls personal associations and memories.
Fallahpisheh is a storyteller. But the narratives that can easily be misinterpreted as sardonic or derisive are deliberately sympathetic. The cast of characters long for a sense of belonging and openness. In their world, Fallahpisheh cultivates an environment from darkness where things have a place and ground, like a voice in the dark singing into the light.