Summer Show: Shahriar Ahmadi, Alfred Basbous, Bahram Hanafi,
Arash Lahiji, Erik Saglia, Ramin Shirdel, Mehrdad Shoghi, and
Mohammad Reza Yazdi
27 July - 22 September 2016
Sophia Contemporary Gallery is proud to present its Summer Show featuring 8 artists from Europe
and the Middle East from different generations working with painting and sculpture: Shahriar
Ahmadi, Alfred Basbous, Baharam Hanafi, Arash Lahiji, Erik Saglia, Ramin Shirdel, Mehrdad Shoghi
and Mohammad Reza Yazdi. The group show is curated around the exploration of the human form
and the abstract properties of the script, featuring 12 paintings and 7 sculptures.
Shahriar Ahmadi’s (born 1970, Kamiaran, Iran) work refers to the great Iranian epic of the
Shahnameh written by poet Ferdowsi, as well as to the poems of Sufi mystic Rumi and themes of
the Islamic tradition. His two paintings Soul of Universe (2013) and Untitled (2013) from the Miraj
series explore the fine line between abstraction and figuration and represent the romance and
mysticism permeating Persian poetry and mythology.
Alfred Basbous’s (born 1923, Rachana, Lebanon) sculptures Phoenician Head (2003), Woman Nude
(2001) and Accolade (1993) refer to the tradition of Modernism, in particular to the works of Henry
Moore and Jean Arp. Alfred Basbous’s work explores the abstract property of the human form
through organic and noble materials such as wood, stone and marble. Basbous is known as one of
the leading modernist sculptors in Lebanon and the Middle East and his sculptures are featured in
the permanent collections of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford and the Musée Rodin in Paris as
well as in many public and private collections throughout the Middle East and Europe.
Erik Saglia (born 1989, Turin, Italy) explores the materiality and formality of abstraction and
reassesses the nature of the ‘modernist grid’. By restructuring the grid with graph paper and spray
and covering it with a thick layer of resin, Saglia emphasizes its material aspect and creates
sculptural painting out of coloured shapes and lines. The artist’s experimentation with the surface of
the abstract canvas reassesses the heritage of the Spatialist movement embodied by artists such as
Lucio Fontana and Alighiero Boetti while his exploration of the formal properties of abstract art
reinterprets the traditions of Modernism and Colour Field paintings epitomized by artists such as
Sonia Delaunay and Frank Stella.
Ramin Shirdel’s (born 1981, Tehran, Iran) sculpture Eshgh (red) (2015) explores the abstract and
sculptural properties of the Arabic script while referring to the Italian Spatialist tradition and to the
Pop Art movement. By turning the letter ‘E’, symbolizing the word ‘eshgh’ or ‘love’ in Farsi, into a
layered sculpture, Shirdel emphasizes the abstract and spatial properties of the script in a playful
way reminiscent of Pop artists such as Robert Indiana.
Mohammad Reza Yazdi’s (born 1986, Tehran, Iran) sculpture Item #2 from the Deep Breathing
series (2015) merges the tradition of Islamic abstraction with Kinetic Art. The intricate composition
of geometric shapes in the artist’s sculpture directly allude to the rich tradition of geometric
patterns found in Islamic art. However, the sculpture takes another dimension by being composed
of movable, motorized parts that rotate at the pace of a person’s breathing, thereby creating a
shifting pattern of kaleidoscopic shapes dizzying the viewer. The Kinetic aspect of the sculpture
challenges the practice of Islamic arts by bringing an innovative and contemporary twist to a
Bahram Hanafi (born 1966, Tehran, Iran), Mehrdad Shoghi (born 1972, Tehran, Iran) and Arash Lahiji
(born 1975, Tehran, Iran) explore the abstract properties of the Arabic script. By turning the script
into bold and intricate abstract canvases, the artists transcend the cultural and linguistic origins of
the script to give it a universal and timeless quality. Working across different generations and in
their individual style, each artist represents a highly idiosyncratic and original take on the art of
Notes to Editors
About Sophia Contemporary Gallery
Sophia Contemporary Gallery is a contemporary art gallery located in a 3,000 square foot space in
the heart of Mayfair, London. The gallery exhibits, represents and champions a diverse roster of
emerging and established artists from around the world working in a variety of media, including
painting, drawing, sculpture, video and photography.
Sophia Contemporary is committed to conducting research and educating the public through
events and talks, and is working with museums and institutions worldwide in order to place the
gallery’s artists in major public and private collections.