May 02, 2022
Body Language, a duo exhibition with new works by Reihaneh Hosseini and Shantel Miller, on view at Future Fair this May
Article by Mollie Barnes
6 min. read
This Curatorial Statement was written by Mollie Barnes, after interviews with the artists.
Body Language, presented by newcube on the occasion of Future Fair in New York (May 4-7), features new works from the visual storytellers and incredible talents of artists Reihaneh Hosseini and Shantel Miller.
Figurative portraiture overarches this exhibition, critiquing notions of the every day while addressing shared themes of familial legacy, physicality, and community. Each artist, in their own way, explores an introspective journey, questioning radical norms and perceptions of the self.
Important to Reihaneh Hosseini’s practice is an understanding of her conservative upbringing, and the place of this past in her seminal works. Hosseini’s works actively dispute the sacredness, shame, embarrassment and chastity often imposed on the female form. These works are a rejection of these conservative notions, instead exploring nature, the body, nudity and laughter in her works. Her works in Body Language align as concurrent snapshots and memories of the artist’s long awaited, cathartic trip to the Persian Gulf, a time spent to explore more liberal ideas of life and the female form.
Infused with sarcasm and wit, the works are understood initially as humorous, complete with bulbous features, often exaggerated and distorted profiles and an incongruous palette. However, Hosseini’s works are rooted in serious, philosophical themes, reminiscent of an emotional sense of discovery. These are each intimate and revolutionary moments.
Hosseini presents viewers with a segment of her artistic process in Present in the Moment as an initial coloured sketch, alongside the completed oil painting. The work completes the reflection and cycle of self-therapy, embracing self-identity, bodily expression and acceptance. Social-restriction is not present among the figures, and complete immersion in the environment is actively encouraged. Viewers are drawn to the front figure’s interactions with the fly on his cheek, and are encouraged to note the artist’s reflection in his pupil. The work must therefore be appreciated as a self portrait, and a welcome for viewers to join in, reflect and cherish the present moment.
The second pencil work, Sunset, presents a figure in nature, though distracted by technology. The light reflected on the sea, acting as a halo to the figure, emanates from both sun and screen. The light sources illuminate the sitter’s face and draw her in, each fighting for attention. With an ever humorous and critical approach, Hosseini is reminding viewers to look past technology, and succumb to the beauty and importance of nature.
Alongside these works, viewers are confronted with the relaxed and welcoming gaze of The Red Road. The work depicts the artist and her friend traveling together at a slow pace, sharing glances and memories. The red sand palette basking over the Tuk Tuk’s interior, surroundings and sitter’s skin, mimics feelings of immersion in nature felt on this trip. Once more, viewers are encouraged to join in the moment.
Complimenting Hosseini’s confrontation of ideas of cultured norms, Shantel Miller sets close up and cropped images of the Black body against domestic backgrounds. These works display often unseen moments of intimacy and safety between family members in ideas of home. Her works shed light on representations of race, gender, and belief systems, while contemplating what it means to be human. The subjects presented partake in intimate whispering, and sharing of inner ideas.
Placement, posture and subtle interactions are vital to Miller’s works. The artist explores “distance and proximity of relationships”, established with characters sharing space in the frame.
While Hosseini’s works encourage you to join the moment, Miller’s exploration of identity and spirituality inspire the viewer to partake only as an onlooker to internal emotions. These ever present moments of intimate exchange thread throughout the works. Often taking the form of parent-child relationships, Miller’s depicted relationships draw metaphor to the artist’s relationship with her faith and fatherlike religious figure.
In Hidden Places is the “cornerstone” to Miller’s series of works. An early work produced in grad school and a departure point for this series of works, the piece is a clearly intimate moment in time between mother and son. They are enveloped together in gesture, showing only the back of the figures. The private moment is put in the public realm, as if to invite us and share with us the precious feeling of closeness.
I Have Authority depicts a headless figure as if looking up from a child’s perspective, arms on hips to adress emotion and power balance. Similarly, Miller’s most recent work ‘Protection’ shares a moment between three: a mother and two sons. The triangular composition brings to mind a religious and spiritual triad.
Body Language presents an understanding of the human experience in the context of culture, environment, family and nature. Viewers travel between these worlds as participants and onlookers. Each artist explores intimate and shared moments in striking palettes, equally revealing, resisting and respecting ideas of the ordinary, and expected norms.
Body Language will be on view from May 4th-7th, 2022 at Future Fair, in New York.
To receive a list of exhibited artworks, contact us at email@example.com.
Visit Future Fair this week in New York
May 5-7, 2022
535 W 28th St.
New York City
Wednesday, May 4th, 4-8PM
Thursday, May 5, 2022, 12-7PM
Friday, May 6, 2022, 12-7PM
Saturday, May 7, 2022, 12-6PM