May 7, 2013 - MIT List Visual Arts Center - Nairy Baghramian, Alan Uglow, and Gabriel Abrantes
May 7, 2013

Nairy Baghramian, Alan Uglow, and Gabriel Abrantes

Nairy Baghramian, Mooring IV (hanging), 2012. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne.

Nairy Baghramian
May 9–July 14, 2013

Alan Uglow: Standards and Portraits
May 9–July 14, 2013

List Projects: Gabriel Abrantes
May 9–June 30, 2013

Opening: May 8, 5:30–8pm
Film screening and conversation with Gabriel Abrantes and João Ribas, 6pm

MIT List Visual Arts Center
20 Ames St.
Cambridge, MA 02139

Nairy Baghramian
Nairy Baghramian (b. 1971, Iran) plays on the supposed distinctions between decoration and function, industrial and handmade, commodity and art object. Her work also centers on the political and social relations implied by objects and the site of display, in particular on the exhibition space as an interior where affect and experience increasingly conflict with luxury and leisure.

For her exhibition at the List, Baghramian abstracts materials and forms derived from utilitarian and maritime objects to draw out the formal and creative processes that define notions of the ‘sculptural.’ The exhibition centers on a group of forms sited in relation to the museum’s architecture. Her Silos share their name with a container or structure used to store bulk or industrial materials. These seemingly soft yet solid forms are created out of sailing fabric, rubber, and pleather. Made from chrome-plated poles, Gurneys—a term to describe wheeled stretchers—are used to support the formless sacks. Baghramian’s Moorings are named after objects used to moor boats in place at port. The artist brings these forms and their complex associations—trade and cargo, the labor of industry and stevedores—into the museum as a means to investigate gendered notions of labor and craft.

Alan Uglow: Standards and Portraits
The work of Alan Uglow (1941–2011) is marked by a sense of proportion, structure, and surface. With an abiding focus on formal economy, Uglow utilized simple geometrical shapes to structure the surface of his canvases, emphasizing the materiality of painting rather than direct pictorial content to explore the formal and affective conditions of abstract painting.

Although seemingly reductive in form, Uglow’s Standards, each measuring seven by six feet, are executed with up to forty layers of paint. This process creates paintings that subtly play with the viewer’s own presence in space. These perceptual distinctions, revealed by the meticulously textured surface of each canvas, reflect a sense of pictorial space without traditional perspective or illusion. Uglow’s paintings also confront the problem of the edge, a motif running throughout the history of 20th-century abstraction, by making the support—the literal frame of the painting—their organizing element. Installed on blocks and sited in precise relation to the wall and surrounding space, the Standards assert a painting as both an object and an image.

Uglow’s Portraits of a Standard are silkscreened prints on canvas that capture his paintings at an oblique angle, making them recede into physical space. While the structural elements of color and edge are blurred through the mechanical process of printing, the Portraits also suggest another edge, that between painting, photography, and sculpture.

List Projects: Gabriel Abrantes
Lisbon-based filmmaker and artist Gabriel Abrantes (b. 1984, United States) crafts fictions around new identities and relations of desire forged through globalization. Abrantes’ brand of post-colonial cinema also implicates desire—and repression as its dialectic—in the reconstruction and reimagining of the past.

Liberdade (directed by Gabriel Abrantes and Benjamin Crotty, 2011) is focused on the new relationships of love and desire created by global capital in Africa. Fratelli (directed by Gabriel Abrantes and Alexandre Melo, 2011) adapts William Shakespeare’s prologue to The Taming of the Shrew, its Portuguese dialogue spoken with the Brazilian accent from Bahia, and filmed in Lazio, the region of Italy where Latin originated. Ornithes (2012), an adaptation of Aristophanes’ play The Birds, was shot in Jacmel, Haiti—the site of major damage during the 2010 earthquake—and features costumes made by local artisans with dialogue in Creole and Attic Greek.

Nairy Baghramian, Alan Uglow: Standards and Portraits and List Projects: Gabriel Abrantes are curated by List curator  João Ribas.

Support for all three exhibitions has been provided by the Council for the Arts at MIT, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the Office of the Associate Provost at MIT, the MIT List Visual Arts Center Advisory Committee, and the Friends of the List.

Nairy Baghramian is made possible through the generous support of Julian and Barbara Cherubini. Additional support has been provided by the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany in Boston. Thanks go to the British Consulate-General Boston for its support of Alan Uglow: Standards and Portraits. Funding for List Projects: Gabriel Abrantes was provided by Foreign Languages and Literature at MIT.


Nairy Baghramian, Alan Uglow, and Gabriel Abrantes at MIT List Visual Arts Center
MIT List Visual Arts Center
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