Siah Armajani

Siah Armajani

Hong Kong18 Feb – 13 May 2017
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  • Rossi & Rossi presents the work of Iranian-born, American artist Siah Armajani from 18 February to 15 April 2017. Works on view spanning his seven decades of output and demonstrating mastery in artistic achievement include early drawings on paper and fabric, ideational architectural models, large-scale sculpture and recent works on paper. Inspired by poetry, American vernacular architecture, Western philosophy and his native Persian heritage, Armajani is recognised as a pioneering figure in the conceptualisation of the role of art in the public realm.

    A strong sense of nationalism, along with a love of Persian literature and miniature art, inspired the artist’s early calligraphic works, which represent the nascence of his long-term interest in probing the links between word and image. A significant group of works from this period are on view, including Paria No. 1 (1957), an expression of his revolutionary angst through the lines of the poet Ahmad Shamlu (1925–2000) written below the floating image of the archangel Gabriel. The role of text in Armajani’s work is later echoed in the inscriptions on his celebrated large public works, such as the Irene Hixon Whitney Bridge (1988), as well as in sculptures like Murder in Tehran (2009), a fiery critique of the violent attacks on the mass protests against the re-election of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

    Four Houses for Four Conditions (1974–75), a group of the artist’s early architectural models, demonstrates Armajani’s investigations into spaces of interaction, gathering, crossing and communication. With an emphasis on ideas over reality, these sculptures position his work as conceptualist models with illogical conditions and improbable encounters. For Armajani, bridges orchestrate unfolding narratives with the commonplace and unexpected choreography of pedestrian movement, offering an expansive concept of ‘public’ as something shared and determined, solitary and occasional.

    Armajani’s Tomb series (1972–2016) pays tribute to philosophers, activists, poets and critical thinkers who have been foundational voices to his art and ideology. Amongst them, Tomb for Heidegger (2012) employs the vernacular architecture of the American frontier in a large-scale sculptural memorial for Martin Heidegger (1889–1976), a pre-eminent German philosopher of the 20th century. Heidegger’s 1954 essay, ‘Building, Dwelling, Thinking’, a seminal discourse on architectural phenomenology, links dwelling to the ‘gathering of the fourfold’, or regions of being as entailed by the phenomena of ‘the saving of earth, the reception of sky (heavens), the initiation of mortals into their death, and the awaiting/remembering of divinities’. The philosopher’s critical thought has informed Armajani’s work over many decades, and remains essential to his greater body of work.

    At nearly six metres in length, Armajani’s Written Berlin, Tomb for Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Walter Benjamin (2014–15) exemplifies the artist’s technique in calligraphic script. The work pays tribute to the philosopher Walter Benjamin (1892–1940) and the theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906–1945), both of whom died during the time of the repressive National Socialist Party’s rule of Germany. The drawing depicts a cityscape of early 20th-century Berlin, interweaving Armajani’s own calligraphic translations into the Farsi of Benjamin’s memoir, Berlin Childhood around 1900, and the biography Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas.

    The exhibition will offer a comprehensive viewing of architecturally scaled sculptures that reflect significant movements in the artist’s career, including Bridge Over a Tree (1970), The Art of Bridgemaking 2 & 3 (1974) and Street Corner No. 2 (1995).

    The exhibition will be on view with special engagements during Art Basel Hong Kong from 23 to 25 March. A fully illustrated catalogue will be published to coincide with the exhibition. Please contact the gallery for more information.

    Artist Bio
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    • Siah Armajani
      Dictionary of Numbers

      1957
      Mixed media on paper
      48.9 x 29.8 cm (19 ¼ x 11 ¾ in)

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    • Siah Armajani
      Songs #1 and #2

      1957
      Watercolor and ink on paper
      57 x 88.3 cm (22 1/2 x 34 3/4 in)

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    • Siah Armajani
      Father Has a Pear

      1958
      Watercolour and ink on cloth
      57.2 x 19.1 cm (22 ½ x 7 ½ in)

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    • Siah Armajani
      Father Has an Apple

      1958
      Watercolor and ink on cloth
      71.9 x 19.1 cm (28 x 7 ½ in)

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    • Siah Armajani
      Paria No. 1

      1957
      Mixed media
      43.2 x 11.4 cm (17 x 4 ½ in)

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    • Siah Armajani
      Four Bridges with Four Conditions

      1974–75
      Mixed media
      (a) House Above the Bridge, 26 x 45.7 x 12.1 cm (10 x 18 x 4 ¾ in); (b) House Before the Bridge, 16.5 x 45.7 x 14 cm (6 ¼ x 17 ⅞ x 5 ⅜ in); (c) House After the Bridge, 18.4 x 61 x 13.2 cm (7 ¼ x 23 ⅝ x 5 ½ in); (d) House Below the Bridge, 17.1 x 41.3 x 11.7 cm (6 ¾ x 16 ¼ x 4 ⅝ in)

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    • Siah Armajani
      Written Berlin: Tomb for Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Walter Benjamin

      2014–15
      Graphite and Ink on Mylar
      101.6 x 566.4 cm (40 x 223 in)

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    • Siah Armajani
      Tomb for Heidegger

      2012
      Mixed media
      175.2 x 142.2 x 254 cm (69 x 56 x 100 in)

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    • Siah Armajani
      Street Corner No. 2

      1995
      Bronze
      171.5 x 279.4 x 22.9 cm (67 ½ x 110 x 9 in)

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    • Siah Armajani
      Kansas City Bridge No. 2

      2016
      Balsa wood, basswood and paint
      55.9 x 157.5 x 11.7 cm (22 x 62 x 4 ⅝ in)

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    • Siah Armajani
      Bridge Over a Tree

      1970
      Mixed media
      20.6 x 86.4 x 24.8 cm (8 ⅛ x 34 ⅛ x 9 ¾ in)

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    • Siah Armajani
      Gazebo for Two Anarchists: Emilio Coda and Richard Henry Dana

      1991
      Wood and steel
      24 x 30.5 x 14 cm (9 ⅜ x 12 x 23 ½ in)

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    • Siah Armajani
      Morning Bridge

      1969
      Stained balsa wood
      22.2 x 137.5 x 14.3 cm (8 ¾ x 54 ⅛ x 5 ⅝ in)

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    • Siah Armajani
      The Art of Bridge Making 3

      1974
      Mixed media
      47.6 x 181.6 x 18.4 cm (18 ¾ x 71 ½ x 7 ¼ in)

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    • Siah Armajani
      The Art of Bridge Making 2

      1974
      Mixed media
      64.1 x 179 x 21 cm (25 ¼ x 70 ½ x 8 ¼ in)

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    • Siah Armajani
      The Art of Bridge Making 4

      1974
      Mixed media
      97.8 x 191.8 x 21 cm (38 ½ x 75 ½ x 8 ¼ in)

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    • Siah Armajani
      Tomb for John Berryman

      1972–2012
      Felt pen on graph paper
      91.4 x 152.4 cm (36 x 60 in)

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    • Siah Armajani
      Tomb for Alfred Whitehead

      2013
      Felt pen on graph paper
      61 x 48 cm (24 x 19 in)

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    • Siah Armajani
      One Bedroom House

      1972
      Painted wood
      29.1 x 54 x 25.4 cm (11 ½ x 21 ¼ x 10 in)

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    • Siah Armajani
      House with a Golden Chimney

      1974
      Metal and plastic
      17.8 x 46 x 12.7 cm (7 x 18 ⅛ x 5 in)

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    • Siah Armajani
      Bridge with Base No. 1

      1969
      Stained Balsa wood
      19.7 x 91.4 x 23.2 cm (7 ¾ x 36 x 9 ⅛ in)

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    • Siah Armajani
      Staten Island

      1996
      Balsa wood, plastic and paint
      88.2 x 135.3 x 33 cm (34 ¾ x 53 ¼ x 13 in)

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    • Siah Armajani
      Stuttgart Bridge

      1994
      Bronze and paint
      17.5 x 125.4 x 31.1 cm (6 ⅞ x 49 ⅜ x 12 ¼ in)

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    • Siah Armajani
      Ronchamp

      2009
      Mixed media
      48.6 x 34 x 20.3 cm (19 ⅛ x 13 ⅜ x 8 in)

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    • Siah Armajani
      King Post Bridge

      1968
      Balsa wood
      23.2 x 44.1 x 16.8 cm (9 ⅛ x 17 ⅜ x 6 ⅝ in)

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    • Siah Armajani
      T3 Paris

      2008
      Mixed media
      27 x 45.7 x 28.3 cm (10 ⅝ x 18 x 11 ⅛ in)

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    • Siah Armajani
      Dawn, Noon, Dusk and Night

      2010
      Colored pencil on Mylar, four parts
      62.9 x 47.6 cm (24 ¾ x 18 ¾ in)

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    • Siah Armajani
      Disaster of War (after Goya) #4

      2009
      Pencil on Mylar
      61 x 90.2 cm (24 x 35 ½ in)

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    • Siah Armajani
      Disaster of War (after Goya) #5

      2009
      Pencil on Mylar
      61 x 90.2 cm (24 x 35 ½ in)

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    • Siah Armajani
      Disaster of War (after Goya) #7

      2009
      Pencil and coloured pencil on Mylar
      61 x 91.4 cm (24 x 36 in)

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