Amir Nikravan (MFA 2011)
Various Small Fires (VSP)
Exhibition Dates: October 9, 2014 - November 8, 2014
VSF is pleased to present the gallery’s first solo exhibition of the Los Angeles-based painter Amir
Nikravan. Despite their impasto appearance, Nikravan’s work fuses the logic of painting, photography,
and sculpture onto one deceptively flat plane. Using negative space to create a positive represen-
tation of an image/object, he produces photorealistic ‘still life’ paintings of paintings that ultimately
question the legacy of art and objecthood.
Taking its title from the Photoshop command that collapses all visible layers into one conglomerate
layer, Merge Visible features paintings that are constructed through the physical enactment of this
directive. Materials ranging from paint to rocks are built up in layers via repetitive gestures until a
temporary sculpture emerges. The sculpture is then covered in fabric, vacuum-packed, and spray
painted in order to capture its topography. Finally, Nikravan destroys the original sculpture- stretching
the painted fabric over aluminum in a conscious performance of itself as a painting, paint qua paint,
or a painting of a painting about a painting. The resulting (Paintings) embrace indexical veracity and
illusionism- highlighting the disconnect between the senses of sight and touch. This becomes evident
through the seemingly sumptuous, volumetric, and optically charged surfaces that reveal themselves
to be flat. What the viewer encounters instead is the object as a picture of itself; a mediated, yet vivid-
ly, presented replica that seals off the visibility of the painting’s construction.
In addition to his perception bending two-dimensional works, Nikravan will present his first sculpture
Untitled (Field), which consists of 50 cast concrete pavers in the second gallery. Combining the re-
petitive unit based nature of his (Paintings) and the raked rocks from his Sites, Untitled (Field) pres-
ents the viewer with a direct ability to experience touch; a physical sense elicited yet denied in all his
other works. However, Nikravan stays true to form in presenting an object that never fully gives way
to desired expectations. The seductive and undulating raked rock patterns, which should give way to
the human body and record its activity as it traverses the works surface, instead remain obdurate in
a solid object state. Just as in his paintings, Untitled (Field) insists forward as a sign-image-picture of
the thing itself.
Throughout Merge Visible, Nikravan’s works call to mind strange topographies from distant places.
The absent layers, pentimenti, and concealed history of the object’s making highlight the inherent
paradox of reproduction, as the object exists both as an empty vessel and a fully realized form.
In conjunction with the exhibition, there is a new catalogue with essays by Patrick Steffen (US Editor,
Flash Art) and Amanda Hunt (Associate Curator, The Studio Museum).
Amir Nikravan (b.1983) has presented exhibitions of his work at ABC Berlin, Berlin, Germany; Luce
Gallery, Turin, Italy; Brand New Gallery, Milan, Italy; Greene Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CA; Pepin
Moore, Los Angeles, CA; Jessica Silverman, San Francisco, CA; Contemporary Arts Center, Irvine,
CA; Workspace @ Art Platform LA, Los Angeles, CA; Las Cienegas Projects, Los Angeles, CA and
Infernoesque, Berlin, Germany.
Image: courtesy of the artist.