SEYHOUN GALLERY, WEST HOLLYWOOD
Brothers of Turkish extraction living and working in Iran, Ali Alizadeh and Ebrahim Mohammadian do very different types of work. Alizadeh is a sculptor, specializing in elegant stone or bronze renditions of animals, especially bulls, that in their elegant stylizations brim with references to ancient (especially Mediterranean and mid-Eastern) votive renditions of the same subjects. Even more vibrant, if less couth, than these curvaceous presences are Alizadeh’s gritty metal assemblages into which the tools of his trade—tongs, nails, hammers—find their way. As a result, these mélanges seem at once as tempting as casseroles and as fearsome as the foundries that forged them.
Mohammadian normally works in two dimensions. In principle, his reliance on stylized depictions of the human figure parallels his brother’s reliance on such depictions of animals; but, while Alizadeh’s objects command a dramatic presence, Mohammadian’s gentle, mysterious work occupies a more poetic realm. Working small and in black and white, as if rendering the pages in a book, Mohammadian conjures what can only be called cocoon people—figures with bulbous, comic heads enmeshed in some sort of wrap clothing—floating in nebulous spaces. The most arresting series engaging these humanoids pairs them with opposing “pages” scored with grids and marked (sometimes with three-dimensional objects) as if a board game were being played upon them. The format and the media involved here turn these recondite “pages” into a commentary, however opaque, on the human condition. They also propose a kind of artist’s book that brings central Asian traditions of the illustrated book into the (post)modern era. This arrestingly scored imagery bespeaks modern concepts of alienation, will, and the manipulation of the individual; but Mohammadian also infuses them with a sense of adventure, transport, and even bliss.