Fridman Gallery is pleased to present Strange Beach, an exhibition featuring the work of Arghavan Khosravi, Nate Lewis, and Tajh Rust. Each artist uses the human figure to highlight tensions and vulnerabilities symptomatic of our times. Strange Beach is a metaphor for the body—as a surface that exhibits and retains memories and social biases, as a unique algorithm that constructs behaviors on behalf of the self. Claudia Rankine, in her Citizen: An American Lyric, described the body as “the threshold across which each objectionable call passes into consciousness—all the unintimidated, unblinking, and unflappable resilience does not erase the moments lived through…” The body hosting the unseen narrative of an individual is the primary focus of Nate Lewis’ works on paper. By cutting, folding and drawing in ink upon photographed figures, he evokes empathy in dealing with issues of race and social history. Lewis, a former critical care nurse, began making art with a scalpel on EKG paper. He treats the material like an organism, exploring what lesions exist within and without us.
Subliminal social histories also underline the work of Arghavan Khosravi. The artist paints motifs influenced by Persian miniature and Surrealism on scanned pages of her Iranian passport and banknotes. Set atop whimsical spaces, the tromp l’oeil figures reach beyond the surface, beyond travel bans and nationalistic politics of citizenship. The female body, front and center, takes charge of historical narratives.
Confronting perceptions of race directly, the color palettes in Tajh Rust’s portraits are informed by the sitters’ skin tones. Interested in helping reveal their true selves, the artist collaborates with his subjects when selecting the spaces in which to portray them. He then alters geometries of the spaces, throwing the viewer’s perspective off balance. In the end, the subjects themselves determine how they are represented.
The body as a “strange beach” speaks to the dissonance between cultural systems and the individual’s capacity for strangeness, self-healing and self-empowerment.