Hoda Kashiha - I'm Here, I'm not Here: Passerelle Centre d’art contemporain, Brest, France

Passerelle Centre d'Art Contemporain, Brest, France 18 February - 14 May 2022 
Passerelle Centre d'Art Contemporain, Brest, France https://www.cac-passerelle.com/expositions/en-cours/hoda-kashiha/

Passerelle Centre d'Art Contemporain is hosting the Iranian artist, Hoda Kashiha (1986, Tehran), for her first solo public exhibition in Europe. In her development of pop painting, ranging from uninhibited Cubism to a cartoonish streak, Hoda Kashiha at first sight presents a joyous selection of works yet they sometimes prove to be dark, strange and full of figurative meaning. She often uses humour to create an intimate connection with the visitor; this mechanism also allows her to tackle serious and sensitive subjects related to the social context and political climate of her home country. Her paintings nevertheless deal with major contemporary subjects found everywhere such as gender issues and the place of women in society. She recently declared in Maake Magazine that "my paintings do not conform to gender stereotypes. The significance of masculine and feminine, as well as their roles and behaviours, are a fluid concept that is constantly changing among the characters in my paintings." For Hoda Kashiha, her protagonists are activists without saying a word, they present their differences openly and remain resolutely optimistic.


Her works are often constructed like types of collages. Various layers overlap and cut-out shapes appear while images are modified by drawing and by the computer. This way of fragmenting motifs results in an exuberant dynamism and vitality, as if the canvases were trying to grab hold of us and shake us, like the first painting in the exhibition bearing the inscription "AAAaaa", such a noisy visual argument!


The exhibition is organised chronologically and structured around two major series I'm here, I'm not here and In appreciation of Blinking. The words "I'm here, I'm not here" are taken from a set of recent works. Hoda Kashiha repeats the same motif of a woman who is joyous to the point of exhaustion. In every painting, the body is covered by a red mark, a black shape or is misshapen. This set of works shows us how we can be erased, executed or censoredby a external power and by death. It also questions our ability to believe in the existence of anything or anyone: if we cannot see it, then that 'thing' does not exist. Self-supporting paintings, In appreciation of Blinking, arranged in the centre of the exhibition space, work in a similar way. For this installation of 8 canvases, Hoda Kashiha observes the inevitable phenomenon of the blinking of eyes. Alternating between blackness and a world of colour, she captures paradoxical moments and feelings of our everyday experience: love and death, jealousy and fulfilment, torture and happiness. A look, a pair of eyes, a confrontation between subject and spectator, these are omnipresent in her works, as if the works were scrutinising and sounding out the visitors, or as if we were always spied upon in the contemporary world. Are we not always followed by our telephones, and recorded by the GAFA Big Four - the giants of the Internet? The digital world and social networks also provide great inspiration for the artist: pixelated images as in retro-gaming rub shoulders with emoticon shapes - little stylised graphic representations that symbolise an emotion. With her abundance of shapes and colours, Hoda Kashiha has produced an explosive mix of genres in which Picasso wanders into the videogame Minecraft and norms of the past are joyously shattered.