Saturday, August 04, 2007

Ala Ebtekar at Gallery Paule Anglim

Ala Ebtekar makes beautiful drawings based on contemporary and ancient Iranian myths. At Anglim he is showing a series of paintings in acrylic, ink and watercolor that use book pages written in Farsi as their support. The largest paintings in the show bear the image of a winged centaur, a familiar Mediterranean motif. Somehow he doesn't seem particularly happy about the belligerency focused toward, and emanating from, his home territory.

Smaller works are bordered with collapsed piles of fallen heroes. Casualties of the ancient war described in the Farsi text (the canonical Shahnameh or Epic of Kings), they could as well have been felled by the coming one to be provoked by the dual mad rages of Ahmedinijad and George W.

It's a busy season for Ala, as he has also recreated his 2004 installation Elemental for the Asia Society's traveling show "One Way or Another: Contemporary Asian Art Now," opening at the Berkeley Art Museum on September 19. A show of drawings related to his 2006 shows Emergence at Richmond Art Center and Emergence: Elements at Anglim, closed earlier this year at The Third Line in Dubai, UAE. Having had the pleasure of curating his show at Richmond, I could not be happier that he's garnering some international attention.

There's more to report, about the adjacent show by Bull.Militec, but that will have to wait until I see the second part of that installation, in "Dark Matter" at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Watch for it next week.

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