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Nairy Baghramian

1971 | Isfahan, Iran
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Nairy  Baghramian — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

© Photo: Oliver Jackl

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Iranian visual artist.

Nairy Baghramian fled Iran with her family for political reasons in the mid-1980s and settled in Berlin, where she still lives to this day. After a deliberately eclectic succession of academic studies (in art history, visual arts, theatre, film, dance, and architecture, among others) at the Universität der Künste and Freie Universität in Berlin, and at Goldsmiths College in London, she began her artistic career in the 2000s.
Sculpture quickly became her medium of choice, the status of which she has since constantly challenged – in terms of composition, layout, and presentation to the public – and formally reinvented in order to expand its possibilities and renew its perspectives. By revisiting traditional concepts, she has imagined a new form of vocabulary that borrows indiscriminately from visual, performing, and decorative arts. She finds inspiration in the history of sculpture – in particular classical statuary –, avant-garde modernist movements, and minimalist art, as well as in theatre, dance, performance, design, arts and crafts, and fashion. Her experiments are driven by a plural reflection and give rise to highly innovative assemblages that rely on the juxtaposition, interplay, and friction of materials, textures, and colours. Whether flexible or rigid, soft or rugged, manufactured or handcrafted, one-of-a-kind or sorted into series, N. Baghramian’s works make light of appearances and contradictions. Just as they seem on the verge of collapsing, crumbling, or breaking up, their supposed fragility is undermined by the materials used.

Retainer (2012) is an emblematic circular installation that consists in an ensemble of irregularly-cut resin panels mounted on structures made out of metallic rods, like scraps of flesh presented on orthopaedic pins. In her more recent series Maintainers (2018), different-sized coloured blocks are firmly held together between the jaws of vices. Whether they represent body parts, protuberances and cavities reminiscent of human physiology, or architectural elements, furniture or interior decoration items, enlarged or hijacked objects, or even perhaps futuristic prostheses and animal shells, the artist develops a multitude of hybrid and strangely familiar shapes that seem to emerge from one another. Her abstract and sometimes monumental sculptures – which can be presented on the floor, on the wall or ceiling, in a doorway, on a column or a rooftop, alone or in groups, vertically or horizontally, indoors or out – reconfigure the exhibition space by establishing a close dialogue with their surroundings. Their layout is determined by their architectural environment and is almost choreographic in the way it influences the movements of the viewers, as is particularly visible in the piece French Curve (2014), a sculpture shaped like the slough of a reptile winding across the floor. N. Baghramian considers the space in which she exhibits as an extension of her sculptures, and is therefore prone to question and reinterpret them each time the context of their presentation changes, thus making her protean work a malleable and living organism.
N. Baghramian has gained significant recognition on the international art scene, as testified to by the presence of her works in prestigious public and private collections, her many museum exhibitions and her participation in major events such as the Venice Biennale (2011), documenta Kassel (2017) and Skulptur Projekt Münster (2007 and 2017).

Read more

Ludovic Delelande

Translated from French by Lucy Pons.

© Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions
Nairy  Baghramian — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Nairy Baghramian, Maintainers F, 2018, casted aluminum, painted aluminum, cork, styrofoam, paraffin wax, variable dimensions, © Nairy Baghramian, © Photo: Nick Ash

Nairy  Baghramian — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Nairy Baghramian, Sitzengebliebene / Stay Downers, 2016, polyurethane, laccquered metall, silicone, size installed variable, installation view Déformation Professionnelle, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 2018, © Nairy Baghramian, © Photo: Timo Ohler

Nairy  Baghramian — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Nairy Baghramian, Drawing Table (Homage to Jane Bowles), 2017, waxed wood, lacquered aluminium, rope, painted canvas, mouth-blown glass, polyurethane, marble plaster, steel, stainless stell, wax, 290 x 610 x 130 cm, installation view documenta 14, Athens, 2017, © Nairy Baghramian, © Photo: Dimitris Parthimos

Nairy  Baghramian — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Nairy Baghramian, Installation view Beliebte Stellen / Privileged Points, Mudam Luxembourg – Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxembourg, 2019, © Nairy Baghramian, © Photo: Rémi Villagg

Nairy  Baghramian — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Nairy Baghramian, Breathing Spell, 2017, cast and powder coated aluminium, 40.64 x 43.18 x 33.02 cm, © Nairy Baghramian

Nairy  Baghramian — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Nairy Baghramian, Maintainers E, 2018, casted aluminum, painted aluminum, cork, styrofoam, paraffin wax, variable dimensions, installation view Maintainers, Festival d’Automne, musée des Beaux-Arts, Paris, 2018-2019, © Nairy Baghramian, © Photo: Margot Charon

Nairy  Baghramian — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Nairy Baghramian, Installation view Breathing Spell, Reina Sofia Crystal Palace, Madrid, 2018, © Nairy Baghramian, © Photo: Timo Ohler

Nairy  Baghramian — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Nairy Baghramian, Installation view Déformation Professionnelle, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 2018, © Nairy Baghramian, © Photo: Timo Ohler

Nairy  Baghramian — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Nairy Baghramian, Installation view Déformation Professionnelle, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 2018, © Nairy Baghramian, © Photo: Timo Ohler

Nairy  Baghramian — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Nairy Baghramian, Installation view Dwindle Down, Marian Goodman Gallery, New York, 2017, © Nairy Baghramian, © Photo: Cathy Carver

Nairy  Baghramian — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Nairy Baghramian, Installation view Scruff of the Neck, Marian Goodman Gallery, New York, 2016, © Nairy Baghramian, © Photo: Thierry Bal

Nairy  Baghramian — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Nairy Baghramian, The Iron Table (Homage to Jane Bowles), 2002, painted wood, painted metal, sand, wire cable, synthetic cable, mast, 2 spotlights, 540 x 320 x 530 cm, installation view documenta 14, Kassel, 2017, © Nairy Baghramian, © Photo: Timo Ohler

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