Location of Home
Andrew Rafacz Gallery
, Chicago, IL
April 16- May 28, 2022
For his third solo exhibition with the gallery, Aminlari presents a series of new sewn thread works on artist-made paper and as well as a series of stoneware ceramic tiles, which he recently introduced to his practice.
Through his use of material and a focus on geometric abstraction, Abdolreza Aminlari has explored the very personal themes of displacement, in-betweenness, and the meaning of home. Over the course of the last decade, his investigation into the intersection of contemporary craft and social practice has led to works that explore an intercultural reception of color and design and are concerned with ideas of a transnational dissemination of embroidery and labor. The exhibition’s title is a reworking of The Location of Culture, the 1994 book by Homi K. Bhabha, which lays out a theory of cultural hybridity.
In the summer of 2021, Aminlari was invited by the acclaimed paper workshop Dieu Donné to collaborate on a project. He created handmade paper from abaca pulp layered on top of a cotton base. He utilizes couching, a process of transferring newly made paper from the mold to an absorbent surface so that it can be pressed and dried. When wet sheets are couched atop one another, intentional layering effects occur, giving the final paper dynamic, colorful properties. He approaches this process carefully with a focus on composition, to expose the colors and texture in the under layers. By way of his thoughtful reaction to chance, Aminlari allows patterns and remnants to emerge. There is an interplay between the organic nature of the paper and the composition of his embroidered geometries, much like an architect’s response to a landscape.
Recently, Aminlari has also begun working with ceramics. The stoneware in this exhibition was produced during a newly initiated artist-in-residency program with West Elm earlier this year, but it had its genesis in the summer of 2020 when the artist traveled to the mountains near Atlanta, Georgia to quarantine during the pandemic and experiment outside of his New York City studio. These works, installed both on the wall and the floor— in a more direct nod to mosaic tiling— incorporate similar forms, colors and textures as the threaded works. He has even embedded some of the wall ceramics with texture directly sourced from paper. There is a direct correlation between the two mediums he employs. Both works embody objecthood. While his hand embroidered works of 24k gold thread are activated by light and the viewer’s movement, the ceramics are seemingly stationary, solidifying the geometric shapes.
For Aminlari, the formal language of the works in his exhibition references his personal experiences and narrative. He explains, “the shapes hint at animal forms found in Persian rugs that I grew up with in my childhood homes, both in Tehran and the Detroit suburbs. But for me— they are what I call a cultural memory. Faint and distant, they act as in-between shapes, of me and my background, but not fully. I wanted them to have the same feeling of in-betweenness as Diasporic culture. For me, the shapes have multiple identities. Instead of being part of a greater pattern, they each stand out and are in dialogue with one another.”