“We are a country of civil war, and from the eternal divide, the ever present rift, lifting their heads and making themselves known, faces emerge,” says the Iranian-American artist. The sculptures displayed in this exhibition employ a variety of materials such as steel, fiberglass mesh, chain, and light in order to project shadows that complement the curving geometry of Amighi’s oeuvre. “I cover them with headdresses I have made, to protect them, to reveal them, to honor and ridicule them,” she continues. Titled the Emperor, the Empress, the Fool, the Warrior, the Beheaded, and the Unborn—the artist’s series of six graphite and six sculptural wall reliefs reveals a procession of passion and disdain—a poetic juxtaposition in form and meaning. They tell of current reigns of power and what the artist calls “heroes and villains ... emerging from our new social and political landscape.”
Warrior’s Headdress, 2017 38 x 44 x 14 in (97 x 112 x 36 cm) Steel, fiberglass mesh, chain, light
All Images Courtesy of the Artist. Photographic documentation © Jeffrey Sturges
LEILA HELLER GALLERY, New York
Amighi’s new works derive their inspiration from a reflection on the history of disposed empires. References to the Mughals, who ruled over the Indian subcontinent until deposed by the East India company in the 19th century, and to the Native American, whose tribal land stretched throughout North America before the arrival of Columbus, can be found in the ornaments that dress each sculpture: jewellery and headdresses with feathers. Amighi’s contemporary artworks resort back in time to comment on the triumphs of the past through a resurrection of elaborate adornment.
This new body of figural works continues the artist’s intricate method of encompassing of shadow and light through highly architectural works. Yet rather than large-scale sculptural installations that inhabit the space, Amighi’s architectural forms breathe out from intricate graphite on paper works and relief pieces that gently illuminate their surroundings. The ornate look of the pieces coupled with carefully crafted details bring to mind an Art Deco aesthetic that pays homage to the artist’s American heritage, while the headdresses themselves address a regal history of past empires thus encompassing themes at once political and personal for the artist.
No More Disguise runs from June 22 – July 28. For more information about the exhibition and the artist, please visit leilahellergallery.com