Taymour Grahne Gallery is pleased to present You and Me, a solo exhibition of new work by the critically acclaimed New York-based artist Nicky Nodjoumi (b. 1942). Nodjoumi’s nuanced figurative paintings engage in political discourse with a satirical touch, layering the artist’s personal heritage and lived experiences into scenes that resonate beyond specific historical contexts or geographical boundaries. Combining historic references, surrealist abstraction, and social realist critique, Nodjoumi uses his practice to explore the intersection of his personal history with the politics of alienation and dislocation.
In this latest body of work, Nodjoumi uses the landscape as political allegory. An example of this is the artist’s large painting Invasive Personality, a horizontal landscape with a lone figure, smoke rising from the distance. Was there an explosion of some kind? Is there a fire? Is this mysterious figure the perpetrator, watching over his dastardly deed, or is he a hero coming to the rescue? One never knows quite exactly what is happening in Nodjoumi’s works- he provides us with clues, but leads it up to the viewer to ultimately form their own conclusions.
In Nodjoumi’s canvases, which are stage-like, ancient Qajar warriors battle with contemporary politicians and businessmen, highlighting the repetition of violence throughout history. This is highlighted in Nodjoumi’s ink on paper The Smell of Jasmin, where historic figures languish in battle in the background, while a contemporary scene of violence occurs in the foreground.
In the lower level gallery, there will be an installation of Nodjoumi’s smaller inks on paper. Sometimes used as preparatory works for larger paintings, these works on paper highlight Nodjoumi’s working process and routine. Each morning the artist reads through The NewYorkTimes, often taking initial inspiration for his figures and ideas from the news stories of the day. Characters are taken out of the news and anonymized, then through a process of collaging and drawing, scenes and dynamics are created, and props added.
As Dr. Omar Kholeif, Manilow Senior Curator at MCA Chicago, states in the exhibition’s accompanying 44-page publication “For Nodjoumi, the stalwart Iranian painter is someone whose noirish drawings and paintings have preoccupied me over the years. His epic palimpsest-like inks on paper unfurl visions of an incongruous reality –rubbing the stains of violent historical battles often associated with the Persian and Islamic Empire up against portraits of contemporary political figures in action. Parallel to these works are his ebullient, colorful canvasses, which depict the fine line between power, corruption and absurdity. Broad but precise brushstrokes evoking figures from Picasso to Pop lay the ground for narrative tales that show political figures hiding behind cartoonish masks as they attempt to eschew the realities of a seemingly dystopian universe.”
Nicky Nodjoumi's works are in several prominent institutional collections worldwide, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the British Museum in London, the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, and the DePaul Art Museum in Chicago. In 2014, Nicky had a solo exhibition at the Cleveland Institute of Art titled The Accident. The artist lives and works in Brooklyn.