Nairy Baghramian inaugurates the solo project sequence, with the debut of Jumbled Alphabet, 2021. On view from February 4 to March 13, 2021, three portraits capture a child’s face turning away, giving the viewer the proverbial cold shoulder. Composed as a radiographic study, the girl’s grumpy expression embodies the poetic streak of an unruly child, suggesting this position as a creative, critical state of mind, to be extended.
Baghramian’s work has often made reference to historic relationships between subject and object, and their perceived independence, as a means to interrogate ideological norms surrounding the traditional understanding of the artist and the artistic offspring. Here, the title of the work, Jumbled Alphabet, hints at the phonetic worksheets filled with scrambled letters that must be unscrambled to form complete words, and are often used as training tools for children learning to read. In Baghramian’s three portraits, the standard markers of a child’s happy portrait have gone awry. Reveling in her imperfection, a sense of play emerges. The portraits remind us how all too often we heedlessly take the bait, letting our cognitive abilities kick in for orderly completion. Now, in a sky blue world where offspring act up, escape is possible.
This work is presented in tandem to Baghramian’s upcoming exhibition, Misfits, curated by Bruna Roccasalva at Fondazione Furla and Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Milan in 2021. Nairy Baghramian is represented courtesy of Marian Goodman, New York / London / Paris; Galerie Buchholz, Berlin / Cologne / New York; and kurimanzutto, Mexico City / New York. We extend our special thanks and gratitude, to Marian Goodman Gallery, for its collaboration in this project.
Nairy Baghramian explores forms and concepts inherited from the history of art to address issues of functionality, decoration, abstraction, and feminism. Her work offers a reflection on the incessant cycle of aesthetic object production, cultivating an interest in marginalized art forms and spaces that are often considered territory of the “feminine”. Her sculptures —made from a wide range of materials including steel, silicon, resin, and leather— bring art historical references into the realm of the subjective: the human body is dismantled and recombined through the politics of interior design. The result offers a re-reading of the legacy of Minimalism and Surrealism in the shape of protuberances and cavities, lumps and spills, organs and body parts. Instability, also a recurrent theme in Baghramian’s work, becomes evident in the use of tenuous and flimsy supports to hold and display her sculptures: dangling or leaning, always on the brink of collapse. The strength of her practice lies precisely in revisiting the oft-overlooked and the delicate, using these tropes as a point of departure for sculptures that are aware of their own fragility while comfortably holding sway over the exhibition space.
Nairy Baghramian lives and works in Berlin.