ArtPrize Winning Artist Opens Exhibit at GRAM

"Intersections" by Anila Quayyum Agha, at GRAM

In 2014, Anila Quayyum Agha’s entry “Intersections,” displayed at the Grand Rapids Art Museum, won the ArtPrize Public Vote and Juried Grand Prize, the first and only time in the international art competition’s history.

Anila Quayyum Agha’s work, “Anila Quayyum Agha: Intersections,” comes to the GRAM once more, beginning this weekend.

“Intersections” is an immersive gallery installation centered on a suspended cube. Each of the cube’s six sides is laser cut with the same delicate patterns, derived from decorative motifs found in Spain’s historic Alhambra, where every surface is covered with designs of Islamic art. A single light bulb within the cube casts shadows of interlacing patterns onto the room’s walls, ceiling and floor—and subsequently the people within the space.

The piece stands in contrast to the “artist’s childhood experience of being excluded from mosques because she was female, with ‘Intersections,’ Agha creates a public space open to all.”

Agha is a cross-disciplinary artist whose work explores cultural, social and gender issues. She uses light and shadow to create work rich with patterns and ornamentation inspired from traditional Islamic architecture and design.

Agha’s work will be presented alongside Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, an Iranian artist with an international reputation for sculpture and drawing that fuses traditional Persian patterns based in mathematics with geometric abstract art. Her work develops out of her interest in the serial progression of rectilinear forms, such as triangles, pentagons and hexagons.

“Mirror Variations: The Art of Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian” is centered on large sculptural reliefs with surfaces of cut mirror mosaic and reverse-glass painting. These materials were used extensively in traditional Persian architecture, an inspiration to the artist.

Works in Monir’s “Convertible Series” are multipart reliefs comprised of nearly identical, interlocking elements, which can be exhibited in a variety of configurations, each designed by the artist.

One of the works from this series, “Tir, 2015,” recently added to GRAM’s collection, will be re-configured into the artist’s different arrangements periodically throughout the exhibition.

Based on an ancient honeycomb dome design, the work Untitled (Muqarnas) unfolds like symmetrical mirrored wings. Rounding out the exhibition are drawings featuring complex geometric motifs in jewel-tone colors.

“Monir Farmanfarmaian is one of the most fascinating artists in the world—truly an artist of the 21st century,” said Ron Platt, GRAM chief curator. “She has moved between Iran and the United States throughout her life, and her art reflects aspects of each culture, in both look and content. More than anything, her work echoes a brilliant artist with a unique personal vision.”

Farmanfarmaian was born in Qazvin, Iran in 1924. She has studied and worked both in Iran and the United States. Her art has been included in numerous solo and group art exhibitions internationally, including a one-person exhibition in 2015 at New York’s Guggenheim Museum.

Both solo exhibitions open on Saturday, May 19. GRAM will host several related events and programming open to its members and the public, including the member exhibition opening, artist talks, a film screening, drop-in tours and more. Visit GRAM for details.

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