55 Fifth Avenue – New York, New York
March 27, 2019 – November 20, 2019
Her largest wall-based sculpture to date, Raafat’s Untitled hugs the unusual curvature of the wall, taking advantage of the play of light and the movement of the viewer through space.
Untitled is an extension of Raafat’s ongoing inquiry into Muqarnas, an Islamic architectonic motif that originated in the mid-10th century and traditionally forms the undulating underside of domed ceilings, vaults, and mosque entrances. Raafat, who was raised in Tehran and traveled extensively across Iran as a young adult, dislocates the Muqarnas and shifts their relationship to the viewer – rotating, fragmenting, and multiplying the iconic elements. The resulting forms are the building blocks of Raafat’s sculptural practice, which she combines with vivid cobalt blues, hand-cut mirrors, tiles and iridescent fabrics. The density of these elements and materials produce a layered sculpture that presents a palimpsestic representation of identity to the viewer. As sacred architecture, Muqarnas link the realm of the spiritual with the terrestrial. Looking up into a domed ceiling, the viewer would be gazing towards heaven and experience the beauty of the Murqarnas as a manifestation of the divine. Raafat’s Muqarnas, however, evoke the awe of new formulations and the urgency of ad hoc construction. Untitled, like all of Raafat’s work, embraces history but delights in rejecting traditional practices in favor of encouraging new ways of seeing elemental forms.
Photos by Sol Hashemi.
Armita Raafat: Untitled is curated by Jennie Lamensdorf and sponsored by the Time Equities Inc. (TEI) Art-in-Buildings. TEI is committed to enriching the experience of our properties through the Art-in- Buildings Program, an innovative approach that brings contemporary art by emerging and mid-career artists to non-traditional exhibition spaces in the interest of promoting artists, expanding the audience for art, and creating a more interesting environment for our building occupants, residents, and their guests.