June 7, 2017 - Museo Nacional del Prado - Farideh Lashai: When I Count, There Are Only You… But When I Look, There Is Only a Shadow
June 7, 2017

Museo Nacional del Prado

Farideh Lashai, When I Count, There Are Only You… But When I Look, There is Only a Shadow (detail), 2012-2013. London, The British Museum.

Farideh Lashai
When I Count, There Are Only You… But When I Look, There Is Only a Shadow
May 30–September 10, 2017

Museo Nacional del Prado
Paseo del Prado, s/n, 28014
Madrid
Spain

www.museodelprado.es
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On display until September, the Museo del Prado and the Fundación Amigos del Museo del Prado are presenting the last work by the Iranian artist Farideh Lashai (Rasht, 1944–Teheran, 2013), When I count, there are only you…but when I look, there is only a shadow (2012-13), a video installation inspired by Goya’s Disasters of War. Farideh removed the figures and modified the images in this iconic print series in order to present them accompanied by animated images which are projected onto them from a moving spotlight.

This presentation offers a unique occasion to see Lashai’s work located alongside the prints by Goya that inspired them and between his Black Paintings and The 3rd of May. The result is a dialogue that reveals the ongoing relevance of Goya’s message two centuries later.

The artist carefully manipulated each print, extracting the scenes and filling in the gaps left by the figures. The backgrounds thus become empty settings which she arranged in a rectangle comprising eight superimposed lines of ten photo-intaglio prints each. The previously digitally animated figures are projected over each of these backdrops by a small spotlight that passes across the prints to the rhythm of a Chopin Nocturne. When the spotlight coincides with a specific backdrop it projects the corresponding scene on it, which is animated for a brief moment before disappearing again into the shadows as the spotlight continues on its random path, illuminating new “Disasters.”

Farideh’s account is a fragmentary one, based on the sensations produced by seeing the scenes randomly illuminated. The result is to make the viewer focus both on the backgrounds and on what is happening. A work of apparently simple appearance but of enormous complexity, it takes its reference point from Goya’s series, which Farideh deconstructed and reconstructed in order to reinterpret a contemporary reality.

The work’s carefully devised composition, which juxtaposes the horror of the scenes, the lyricism of the rhythm of the light and the soft, romantic music, has an open-ended, poetic title which emphasises its meaning, inspired by lines from T. S. Eliot’s poem The Wasteland (1922).

When I look… can be related to the body of visual work created by Farideh Lashai in the last seven years of her life, when she was influenced by the literary language of the autobiography she wrote as a mature artist. This body of work takes the form of video installations in which painting, poetry, theatre, film, animation and sound combine in a natural manner, expanding their expressive powers and giving rise to a distinctive language of juxtapositions of layers of meaning and dialogues with creative figures from all historical periods.

For this project, which is part of the PHotoEspaña festival, the Museo del Prado has collaborated with the British Museum, which has generously loaned this work and will also be making it the principal focus of an exhibition in London in 2018.

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