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Identity and Paradox

“Surrender,” 2015.
“Surrender,” 2015.

When D.C.-based artist Hedieh Javanshir Ilchi starts a new piece, she lays a wood panel on the floor of her studio and pours paint on it. She has to move quickly to level the paint and contain it on the panel. The process is physical, fast and unpredictable. She then slows down and begins to painstakingly weave elements from her Iranian background into the piece. “The accidental moments are followed by hours of meticulous painting alluding to Persian art conventions,” she says. “It can take me months to finish a piece.”

“If you see me on the moon, greet me tenderly,” 2015.
“If you see me on the moon, greet me tenderly,” 2015.

Ilchi came to the United States from Tehran when she was 18—experiencing serious culture shock. “Growing up in a culture with perpetual censorship teaches you to get your ideas across through a layered, coded method. Being direct was a contradiction to the way I was brought up.” It is no wonder that her work tackles ideas of identity and paradox. Molten gold seeps across exquisite, minute tiles. Candy-colored illustrations zoom through deep purple cosmos (her inspirations include space and satellite imagery). There is irony and humor in her work, but there also persists subtle disruption. “I let the contradictory elements and ideas coexist,” says Ilchi. “I want there to be moments of surprise and discovery that unfold gradually.” —Saralyn Lyons

Ilchi’s work will be on view at Randall Scott Projects from Oct. 17 through Nov. 21.

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