Hesam Rahmanian (born Knoxville, 1980)
The corner is important to Hesam Rahmanian’s recent work, as is conviviality, wordplay, and experimentation. His work is about artmaking as care, and artmaking as play. In Rahmanian’s shaped canvases, the corner is a temporal device, a way to slow down time. We approach a painting at the edge of a wall: we see a line, then turn a corner, and see it unfold into a thing, a place, or a being. To paint in a corner is to relinquish the ease of a flat surface in favor of a more complicated negotiation. However, for Rahmanian, it’s a productive constraint.
A guiding philosophy behind the production of these works is an ontology that is oriented towards a radical equality between objects (object-oriented ontology), where there is no distinction or difference between human beings, non-human life, and objects which populate the world. In this way, the works themselves tend away from the heroism and centrality of the artist and the work of art. Instead, they focus on objects marginalised in the collective environment – a pair of pliers, a chair, the space between the shower and sink, spiders, and boxes.
The works that emerge from Rahmanian's practice take on what may be called a kind of narrative independence, that is, the ability to exist beyond the viewer's own story and perception of the world. Even as your gaze moves elsewhere, they do not cease to be. On the contrary, they exude unmistakable presence, and they, despite your trajectory, continue to exist. Rahmanian’s work opens on to the viewer as a host to a guest. There are no illusions, tricks, or rhetorical flourishes; the wordplay is gentle and the process is clear. Painting is not about mastering the world, or leaving a deep, subjective mark; there is no nostalgia for the theatrics of the past century. It is a cohabitation with the world: to live in a corner of it, in harmony with its inhabitants.
Rahmanian has held solo exhibitions at Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde, Dubai (2013, 2019), Paradise Row, London (2011) and Traffic, Dubai (2010). He works collectively with Ramin and Rokni Haerizadeh, and the three artists also work independently and together in a collective that constantly grows and contracts to coordinate friends, writers and artists. The collective has presented solo exhibitions at Frye Art Museum, Seattle (2019), Officine Grandi Riparazioni (OGR), Turin (2018), MACBA, Barcelona (2017), Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), Boston (2015), Kunsthalle, Zurich (2015), Den Frie Center for Contemporary Art, Copenhagen (2015), Busan Biennale, South Korea (2018), Liverpool biennale, UK (2016) and The 8th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Brisbane (2015), among others.