Curator Eva Respini talks with Shirana Shahbazi.
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Shirana Shahbazi makes photographs in classical art-historical genres, including portraiture, still life, and landscape, often translating and repeating her images in different mediums: hand-knotted carpets, for instance, and photorealistic billboards painted by artisans hired in her native Iran. More recently, Shahbazi has produced work that is architectural in scale, creating installations of multiple images hung on wallpaper. This site-specific installation features a repeated geometric pattern derived from one of the artist’s abstract photographs, printed as a wallpapered lithograph with applied pigment and wrapped around the center wall of the gallery.

Alternating between abstraction and representation, Shahbazi’s vividly colored pictures are made in the crisp style of commercial studio photography, without the aid of digital tools. To make her abstract compositions, she photographs painted pedestals and other geometric volumes; sometimes she makes multiple images of the same objects, turning the volumes between exposures to create a dynamic interplay between surface and depth and a sumptuous field of geometric color and pattern. Shahbazi arranges her pictures in surprising combinations. Here she juxtaposes abstract geometries with the hard edges of jagged mountains and the precise form of a diver in mid-flight. Shahbazi’s arrangements highlight similarities between pictures from different genres and point to structural parallels between outside and inside, organic and manufactured, and the natural and constructed landscape. Her photographs, translated into different mediums and arranged in different groupings each time they are shown, play differently with the viewer’s perception with every new iteration.

Sharina Shahbazi was born in 1974 in Tehran. She studied photography at the Fachhochschule Dortmund in Germany and Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst in Zurich. Shahbazi lives and works in Zurich.