BLURRED BORDERS | English Version

Soli Kiani

June 16 - August 1, 2022

That of Pliny (1st century) is a gladly quoted art-historical anecdote: In the competition with Parrhasius Zeuxis painted grapes, which looked so natural and delicious that birds are to have flown in to peck at the painted fruits. Parrhasius, however, countered his challenger with a curtained painting. When Zeuxis tried to push the curtain away from the painting and look behind it, he failed just as the birds had failed against the deceptively real painted canvas. There was no curtain, but only purposefully placed color.

This exhibition is also made of fabric. Soli Kiani is radically committed to the present, and yet art history may be borrowed - for the artist herself speaks of this exhibition as one that brings the old debates of art genres into focus. Parallel to her artistic intervention with political works at the Hotel Blaue Gans and following her highly acclaimed show at the Bank Austria Kunstforum in Vienna, BLURRED BORDERS at Galerie Sophia Vonier brings the formal aspects in Soli Kiani's multifaceted oeuvre into focus. In the three-step process of photography, painting, and object, the blurred boundaries between the techniques are probed and comparison is unmasked as insignificant. Rather, Kiani's designs complement each other, regardless of which technique is the focus. Blurred and daring, a dance on the edge - everything is in motion. Like the fabric that Soli Kiani pulls through the photograph and captures in wax crayon. The picture support becomes an object in turn through its external form - the depth that the painting acquires at its edges, where thick strips rise from the wall - while the object absorbs the drawing gesture. Kiani also refers to the objects as "plastic painting," since it is linen fabric that forms the basic material and now interacts with the concrete. The rhythm remains black, white and gray. The cloth, the fabric that floats through the picture surfaces, must also be read as a cultural quotation. Kiani has left the chador behind, but the social weight of the involuntary veiling endures, no matter how dissolved and light the white silk fabric drapes over the photographs, the reference weighs heavily. Soli Kiani places the history and present of culture alongside the history and present of art as accomplices. A catchword of the exhibition is 'pictorialism'. For decades, photography had to fight for its place within art and had to admit defeat to painting in prestige. From the end of the 19th century, however, photographers under the umbrella of pictorialism declared it their goal to prove that photography was worthy of art; in doing so, they discovered, for example, the play with sharpness and blurriness and sought ways to incite emotions through the photographic image. Long reduced to the function and technique of the image, Kiani plays precisely with this false prejudice against photography and deliberately stages a dialogue between original and image. Painting that imitates photography and photography that challenges painting. Standing on the border herself - Soli Kiani was born in Shiraz (Iran) in 1981, but has lived in Austria since 2000, where she studied with Christian Ludwig Attersee from 2007 - Kiani knows about the general blurring of all circumstances. Perhaps photographer Ruth Bernhard (1905-2006) best sums up the potential of blurred borders, as this exhibition is titled: "Unless you are willing to see more than is visible, you will see nothing."     


Paula Watzl, May 2022




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