HAYV KAHRAMAN | MAHAFFA 1 | JACK SHAINMAN GALLERY

Hayv Kahraman’s new show is grounded in the ancient tradition of the mahaffa, a rectangular fan made of palm fronds that dates to the Sumerian and Abbasid periods. More than a mere trope, however, Kahraman uses the structural nature of the mahaffa to complicate her works in interesting ways. The artist has smartly noted the ‘palimpsestic’ nature of this process, and that is indeed what she achieves, letting each canvas become the site erasure and recreation.

Strictly speaking, a palimpsest is any writing surface where the original writing has been effaced so that new writing can replace it. There is, then, a complex idea of layering and obfuscation built into the palimpsest idea. There is also something poetic about it; the idea that ghostly traces of one form might bleed through onto another form is intriguing. There is certainly a thickness to any object that becomes a palimpsest, where forms are mapped atop forms, and this is true for Kahraman’s new works, too. Here, select canvases have been torn into strips and then weaved into a more complete canvas, thus creating loses and new forms in final painting.

The ghostliness of palimpsestic objects comes through elsewhere too, like in the diaphanous skin of Kahraman’s forms, or in the subtly dyed, bleached, and painted areas, as we can see in the detail.

I particularly liked Mahaffa 1, where the inspiratory image makes its first appearance and pulls double duty as an actual weaving. This idea reaches a kind of conclusion with Study 1 and 2, where the entire female form is reduced to a web of interwoven palm fronds. The disarticulation of form is powerful, and one can’t help but recall Kahraman’s own history as an Iraqi refugee when viewing her paintings. Whether woven, stitched, replaced, or layered, Kahraman’s new works stage disappearances, just as they stage reappearances, too.

Four on the Floor #4

Albrecht Dürer | Tschabalala Self | Hayv Kahraman | Sarah Mehoyas

Hayv Kahraman, Targets, 2017. Courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery.

Hayv Kahraman, Targets (detail), 2017. Courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery.

Hayv Kahraman, Mahaffa 1, 2017. Courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery.

Hayv Kahraman, Study 1, 2017. Courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery.

Hayv Kahraman, Targets, 2017. Courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery.

HAYV KAHRAMAN | MAHAFFA 1 | JACK SHAINMAN GALLERY

Hayv Kahraman’s new show is grounded in the ancient tradition of the mahaffa, a rectangular fan made of palm fronds that dates to the Sumerian and Abbasid periods. More than a mere trope, however, Kahraman uses the structural nature of the mahaffa to complicate her works in interesting ways. The artist has smartly noted the ‘palimpsestic’ nature of this process, and that is indeed what she achieves, letting each canvas become the site erasure and recreation.

Hayv Kahraman, Targets (detail), 2017. Courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery.

Strictly speaking, a palimpsest is any writing surface where the original writing has been effaced so that new writing can replace it. There is, then, a complex idea of layering and obfuscation built into the palimpsest idea. There is also something poetic about it; the idea that ghostly traces of one form might bleed through onto another form is intriguing. There is certainly a thickness to any object that becomes a palimpsest, where forms are mapped atop forms, and this is true for Kahraman’s new works, too. Here, select canvases have been torn into strips and then weaved into a more complete canvas, thus creating loses and new forms in final painting.

The ghostliness of palimpsestic objects comes through elsewhere too, like in the diaphanous skin of Kahraman’s forms, or in the subtly dyed, bleached, and painted areas, as we can see in the detail.

Hayv Kahraman, Mahaffa 1, 2017. Courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery.

I particularly liked Mahaffa 1, where the inspiratory image makes its first appearance and pulls double duty as an actual weaving. This idea reaches a kind of conclusion with Study 1 and 2, where the entire female form is reduced to a web of interwoven palm fronds. The disarticulation of form is powerful, and one can’t help but recall Kahraman’s own history as an Iraqi refugee when viewing her paintings. Whether woven, stitched, replaced, or layered, Kahraman’s new works stage disappearances, just as they stage reappearances, too.

Hayv Kahraman, Study 1, 2017. Courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery.

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