A look at the arts scene in San Diego from the curator of the Martha Pace Swift Gallery at NTC Promenade. Wes Discusses current shows and artists, multimedia links, reflections on other shows and artists and musings on all things artistic.
Ellen Dieter Returns to the Swift
The Bay Park Paintings give a beautiful taste of home
Monday, May 30, 2011
Shahla Dorafshan Show delivers the artist's powerful, intimate viewpoint without compromise
Every once in a great while I have the pleasure as a curator of seeing a body of work assembled in my space which is almost entirely fresh to my experience. Shahla Dorafshan's (door-ahf-shan) body of work is this type of experience. It is not simply the fact that the work is new to me, or that it becomes greater than the sum of its parts. This is not an infrequent phenomenon. What is unusual about the current body of work is the particular combination of technical prowess and expressive acumen. The precision of her draftsmanship, from sturdily realistic, to the further boundaries of ledgible abstraction demonstrate her ability to make a painting come to life, whether it be a quick study or a minutely detailed rendering. Yet common to all these levels of technique, the paintings carry the artist's unmistakable voice.
Whether its a tightly rendered portrait or an implied
presence,the figure and gesture in Shahla's paintings
always present a sense of authenticity
Many of the portraits in the show are done from life, working with professional models. Yet the expressions on the faces; anguish, betrayal, resignation, grief, weariness, all ring true, not to the momentary experience of the model, but to the experience of the artist. It is as if the artist is painting a peculiar kind of self portrait, using other faces to express her own experience.
And that is where Dorafshan's acutely observant eye positively shines through. She can transmit the full range of emotions in a dozen subtle ways, from the set of the jaw or tilt of the head, the slightly widened, unfocused eye, the lips tight, or open. The look of resignation, curiosity or hopelessness that illuminates the face is both authentic to the mode of expression the model might take and to the inner state of the artist as she works. These are paintings you fully expect to have a conversation with. And it's clear, that the conversation might not be pleasant. But it will be honest.
Shahla Dorafshan's show, Painting the Persian Heart opens June 3rd, and will run through mid August.