68projects is pleased to present Soul Mate, a two-person exhibition of Kimia Ferdowsi Kline and Farshad Farzankia. Kimia Ferdowsi Kline is an Iranian artist, who lives and works in Brooklyn N.Y., USA and Farshad Farzankia, is also an Iranian artist, who lives and works in Copenhagen, Denmark. Though differing in stylistic approach, both artists are concerned with questions of abstraction, figuration and the experience of the iconographic body from intimate and graphic perspectives.

With an electric relationship between the figures in her works, Kimia Ferdowsi Kline references the Fauvists in their love of intense color and Matisse in his love of the gestural body. However a notable difference here is the intimate scale of Kline’s paintings. Due to the small scale of the work, the viewer is drawn close and the moments of touch between the figures in her works feel full of emotional friction. Often sculpturally built up on the surface of Kline’s paintings, the touches depicted between the figures in the paintings remind us of the touches of the brush used to make the work itself and furthermore remind us of the touches between a friend, a lover or a family member. Often including two figures drawn with an oil stick outline, the paintings suggest the difficulty and potential of intimacy. This drawn line formally interjects drawing into painting and doing so establishes the boundary between where you end and I begin, in this way there is a hovering question in Kline’s work: namely when do we ever feel at home with the other?

Looking to Jean Michel Basquiat as his hero and to the language of Neo-Expressionism in his large iconic paintings, Farshad Farzankia remixes references from the 80’s to today to tell powerful narratives of migration and power relations in his works. Including icons of personal importance and building a lexicon of meaning through symbol: cameras reference the artist’s love of film and film direction, shoes which become understood as symbols of migration and red tulips that surround faces references iconic posters from Farzankia’s childhood in Tehran. Employing a similar strategy as Kline of delineating the boundary between figure and ground with the oil stick; many of Farzankia’s paintings use the structure of the grid to organize the productive discrepancy in his work. A shoe sits next to a tulip, sits next to a person of color, sits next to a colonizing figure and with titles like Negotiation Skills the negotiation of charged social symbols next to one another becomes the intellectual and visual engagement for the viewer when looking at Farzankia’s critical works. Moving from working as a graphic designer into painting Farzankia’s work across mediums poses questions about who is seen and why and what objects hold meaning across borders.

In engaging the figure in both painter’s works 68projects is excited to participate in this conversation about how figurative painting holds resonance across social and personal contexts. Kimia Ferdowsi Kline and Farshad Farzankia create a dialogue about how the personal becomes political through charged emotive tensions between two figures in an embrace and two figures across the table in discussion. In this dialectic of intimacy and negotiation both painters remind us that in the conversation between me and the other power is never out of the question.

Kimia Ferdowsi Kline is a New York based painter and was born in Nashville, Tennessee in 1984. She earned an M.F.A. in visual arts at the San Francisco Institute in 2011 and holds a B.F.A. in painting from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A. Kline was the September 2017 resident artist at 68 Projects, Berlin, Germany.

Farshad Farzankia (born in 1980) is an Iranian artist and painter who lives and works in Copenhagen, Denmark. Farzankia is well known for his acrylic paintings, mixed media sculptures and installations. Farzankia holds a bachelor degree in Visual Communication and worked for 15 years as a Graphic Designer in the field of Poster and Music Design before he retired as a Graphic Designer and started painting full time.