Without Boundary: Seventeen Ways of Looking

Shirazeh Houshiary
(b. 1955 in Shiraz, Iran, lives and works in London)
Fine Frenzy

Shirazeh Houshiary. Fine Frenzy. 2004

(b. 1955 in Shiraz, Iran, lives and works in London)
Black and white Aquacryl, white pencil, and ink on canvas, 6' 2 3/16" x 6' 2 3/16" (190 x 190 cm). Private collection. © Shirazeh Houshiary. Photograph: courtesy Lisson Gallery, London Audio courtesy of Acoustiguide

FERESHTEH DAFTARI: Sharizeh Houshiary was born in Iran, but has studied, lived and worked in London since 1974. In making Fine Frenzy, she placed the canvas on the floor, and prepared it with multiple layers of water based black paint. Then, in white pencil and ink, she inscribed and erased a word in Arabic script again and again, until the letters dissolved. Her text is in ordinary handwriting, not calligraphy. She does not identify the word.

SHARIZEH HOUSHIARY: It's a black painting. And it turns white. It is a long process.

In Fine Frenzy, I have used a word. It’s like a tool more than anything else, the only way to have access to this life. The form of breath is word. And that's why I use the word. But it has to transcend meaning. Otherwise, it becomes like descriptive idea. And it's not about that.

The word is just repeated. And it’s repeated so much that it's almost as if the energy is pulverized. And it gains presence when it loses its form and meaning. Light and dust merge together. It's about the loss of illusory identity, and gaining the real one. This is a process of removing the veil.

I want to use a metaphor to describe this shift of consciousness. Just imagine the image on the canvas is real. And at that moment, the cloth of the canvas removes itself from the image. What will be there? The image is only there because of warp and weft of the cloth. Our conscious mind works exactly in the same way.

So everybody can have relationship with this painting because it transcends cultures, and it touches somewhere deep within us, which we can't reach. That's my hope. So I'm exploring in this painting the relationship between existence, and non-existence. Between life and death. The edge between them is sheer. And Fine Frenzy is that sheer edge. The picture of this painting is like ash. The color of it is from black, to ash, to white. It is a very beautiful painting.

2 / 10