Abbas Akhavan  /  Beacon

This exhibition is curated by Andria Hickey, Associate Curator at Public Art Fund (New York).

 

For his first solo exhibition in Montreal at the Darling Foundry, Toronto-based artist Abbas Akhavan will alter the visitor experience of the foundry’s unique architecture with two symbolic sculptural works. Each resonates with the notion of vulnerability, encouraging subtle discovery. As with previous work, this exhibition explores the nature of loss, alienation and confrontation in relationship to territory and power.

Central to the exhibition is a hot air balloon, toppled to the floor, slowly inflating, filling the room, only to deflate and rise once again. Referencing the rise and fall of the sun, an organ, a breath filling a cavity, the once-functional, now-defunct aircraft never reaches its full potential.

Adjacent to this amorphous form is a seemingly abstract stone sculpture. Made of mortar, the large shape resembles the corroded figure of a lion.   Based on a sculpture in Hamedan, Iran, known as the “stone lion” of Hamedan, the origins and the evolution of the creature are speculative: dated as far back as the Hellenistic Period, the sculpture was one of a pair of lions seated at the gate of the city, acting as a talisman protecting the city from catastrophic storms and ill will.

One of the artist’s most ambitious installations to date, this body of work explores the poetic and cyclical nature of transformation, both symbolic and political. Transforming found materials only to return them to ruin forms; Akhavan addresses our shifting relationships with the inheritance of ambivalence in relation to historical symbols of power and loss.

In the artist’s words, “monuments of the lion as a symbol of power and empire have many cross national associations. This shifting endangered animal becoming sometimes symbolic of longing, hostility, and ruin.” Within the gallery, as the balloon rises and falls with each inflation, the lion and sun point to an unknown territory and the unexpected steadiness of change.

Abbas Akhavan

Born in Tehran, Abbas Akhavan currently lives and works in Toronto.

Akhavan’s work has been exhibited spaces including Darling Foundry, Vancouver Art Gallery & Power Plant (Canada), KW Institute of Contemporary Art (Germany), Performa 11(USA), Bucharest Biennal 5 (Romania) and Belvedere Museum (Vienna). Recent and upcoming residencies include Fundacion Marcelino Botin with Mona Hatoum (Spain), Axeno7, Video In, TSV, and Fogo Islands (Canada), Watermill Centre (USA) and The Delfina Foundation (Dubai, UAE & London, UK). Akhavan was the recipient of the Berlin Kunstpreis 2012. 

Akhavan is represented by The Third Line.