Watch Chaos and Precision Collide in Artist Shirazeh Houshiary’s New Show at Lisson Gallery

The British-Iranian artist embraced chaos and chance to create the new paintings on view at the gallery's New York outpost.

Shirazeh Houshiary’s new series of paintings don’t look like the product of chaos, but they are.

At least that’s how the artist describes it. On view now in her exhibition “Nothing is deeper than the skin” at Lisson Gallery in New York, Houshiary’s canvases are layered with broad swirls of pencil, pigment, and watered-down acrylic. However, the effect—a marbled sky or a slow-moving eddy—evokes calm movement more than chaos.

That’s because the chaos refers to the process, not the product, as the artist explains in a video for the exhibition. “These new works are very different from previous ones in the sense that I use water and pigment as the start of the painting to open up a window to the chaos, or what I call a ‘chance.’”

Shirazeh Houshiary, Genesis (2016). © Shirazeh Houshiary. Courtesy of Lisson Gallery.

Embracing the element of chance is part of Houshiary’s continued exploration of the gossamer line between reality and the unconscious. It’s a theme that courses throughout much of her practice, which has come to encompass painting, sculpture, and installation.

“Often people talk about my work being metaphysical, or symbolic,” she says. “I would say they are neither metaphysical nor symbolic. They are purely experiential. [They’re not about] a representation of the form, but the actual pulsation of the form.”

“Nothing is deeper than the skin” is Houshiary’s eighth exhibition with the gallery, but her first in New York. The show features the artist’s largest painting to date, a triptych that measures more than 25 feet wide, as well as a series of her helical aluminum sculptures.

Shirazeh Houshiary, detail of Flit (2017). © Shirazeh Houshiary. Courtesy of Lisson Gallery.

Nothing is deeper than the skin” is on view at Lisson Gallery in New York from November 3 to December 22, 2017.

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