Sonia Balassanian: Five Decades in the Making

Sonia Balassanian: Five Decades in the Making

Ab-Anbar Gallery

October 6, 2022
Sonia Balassanian: Five Decades in the Making
October 11–16, 2022
Book launch and talk: October 11, 5–6pm
Ab-Anbar Gallery
(Pavilion Gallery)
04 Cromwell Place
London SW7 2JE
United Kingdom
Hours: Tuesday–Saturday 10am–6pm,
Sunday 10am–4pm

T +44 7747 581470

Ab-Anbar is proud to present: Sonia Balassanian: Five Decades in the Making, a landmark survey exhibition of the iconic Iranian Armenian American artist’s art at the Ab-Anbar, 4 Cromwell Place (Pavilion Gallery), curated in close dialogue with Dr. Omar Kholeif (Egypt/Sudan/UK), author, curator, and broadcaster. The exhibition marks the artist’s first solo exhibition in the United Kingdom. 

The exhibition coincides with Ab-Anbar’s solo presentation of Hostages: A Diary (1980)exhibited in Great Britain for the first time as part of Frieze Masters in Regent’s Park, London. 

The project launches Imagine OtherwiseVolume 1: Sonia Balassanian, a new book series, the first in the collection focuses on the life and work of Sonia Balassanian, authored by Dr. Omar Kholeif, and published by Sternberg Press, London in association with artPost21

On October 11, 2022, from 5–6pm at the Ab-Anbar galley in Cromwell Place (Pavilion Gallery), London, Sonia Balassanian, the artist, and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Artistic Director, Serpentine Galleries will be in a live conversation, moderated by Dr. Omar Kholeif, Director of Collections and Senior Curator, Sharjah Art Foundation, United Arab Emirates. The talk entitled, Imagining Otherwise - The Re:birth of an Artist will be followed by a book-signing by the artist of Imagine Otherwise: Sonia Balassanian, which initiates a landmark new book series from Sternberg Press focusing on the lives of queer, non-binary, and female artists, who do not currently have a book in print in the English language. 

Sonia Balassanian: Five Decades in the Making is a momentous celebration of the life and art of Sonia Balassanian, one of the most significant artists to emerge from the region that we have come to know as the “Middle East”, actively working and exhibiting since the 1970s. Born near in Arak, Iran in 1942, Balassanian began her artistic pursuits as a poet. Academic training in the United States—in Philadelphia and New York, would set a new course for the artist whose poems morphed into palimpsest like canvasses in the 1970s, where she was referred to by American critics including Martin Zimmer, as a pioneering figure in Lyrical Abstraction. 

Balassanian’s artistic tone changed radically, however, after the events of the Iranian Revolution, which began in 1978. Her art began to intertwine with the political, as she became engaged in numerous forms of social activism, serving as a proponent for women’s rights. It was at this juncture in the 1980s that Balassanian produced some of her most recognisable work, installations, which would come to be exhibited in significant presentations at SculptureCenter, New York and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, among others. Art magazines in the US referred to Balassanian as “one of the most significant political artists of her generation”.

Balassanian’s multivalent practice—presents art across all media, from painting to sculpture, video, and installation. Curator of the exhibition, Dr. Omar Kholeif, author of a new biography and survey of the artist’s work, Imagine Otherwise: Sonia Balassanian, has developed the exhibition in close dialogue with Ab-Anbar and the artist, choosing key works, rarely seen, which mark a significant trajectory in her  oeuvre. To reference Dr. Kholeif’s significant new book: 

Imagine if one could enter the New York art scene of the 1970s and ’80s with fresh eyes. Can we move through these pages, and corridors, across poetry and Lyrical Abstraction—from politically-fashioned exercises in collage and portraiture? Can we travel from the exhibition halls of MoMA, New York, to the monasteries of rural Armenia, and imagine, a world anew, a corrective art history, where the players, and the stage are set differently?”

Please RSVP to attend the opening talk and the book launch.

RSVP for Sonia Balassanian: Five Decades in the Making
Ab-Anbar Gallery
October 6, 2022

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