Cross-sensory perception quickens and multiplies in Smell of First Snow, Shirazeh Houshiary’s eighth exhibition at Lisson Gallery. Through painting, drawing and sculpture, Houshiary approaches the intangible and evanescent, articulating a metaphysical reality that lies beyond mere form and surface.
A diaphanous mesh of pencilled words traces its way across Houshiary’s canvases like spiralling strands of DNA. Each word is precisely written yet cumulatively becomes illegible, individual meanings giving way to vibrations that invoke a plethora of nonverbal associations.
In the vast diptych, A Deluge (2015), a tissue formed of innumerable tiny words and powdered cobalt and violet pigments form a fine tracery evocative of the muted luminosity of a clouded sky. Smaller works such as Zero and Seed (both 2014) likewise evince a protean energy.
Describing what is known rather than seen, felt via overlapping senses and via memory, Houshiary’s canvases are manifestations of mindfulness in which the artist’s touch translates into being.
Accompanying the paintings are sculptures made in 2015. Two wall-based works, Allegory of Sight and Allegory of Sound, explicitly strive after synaesthesia. Resembling dancing ribbons or darting wavelengths, these cast stainless steel sculptures are coated in dense black and evanescent white paint respectively, creating a dialectical evocation of these vital senses.
Published after the exhibition Shirazeh Houshiary: Smell of First Snow at Lisson Gallery, London, 22 May – 4 July 2015.