Samuel Staffan: Step Out Of My Heart And Be Under The Great Sky | Arghavan Khosravi: At Her Fingertips
612 N Almont Dr., West Hollywood, CA 90069
Saturday, April 27 at 6:00 PM 9:00 PM
Ends Jun 15, 2024
M+B is pleased to present Step Out Of My Heart And Be Under The Great Sky., an exhibition of new works by Samuel Staffan. This is the artist’s first solo show with the gallery. The exhibition opens on April 27 and will run through June 15, 2024, with an opening reception on Saturday, April 27, from 6 to 8 pm. Samuel Staffan’s paintings explore the interplay between the self and nature. They capture the spiritual longing to transcend beyond the self, particularly through the lens of nature. The works focus on the sense of the sublime, but in a meaning beyond the Romantic's focus of awe and terror where they often captured figures in expansive terrains such as in Caspar David Friedrich’s famous Wanderer above the Sea of Fog. Instead, Staffan approached the sense of the sublime in nature from a different perspective, often his landscape paintings lack a horizon line and he captures small moments within nature that are from a close and intimate perspective. When painting the works, each starts with bright base layers and builds to darker hues, with light percolating through, creating ethereal and cocoon-like effects. In Step Out Of My Heart And Be Under The Great Sky., a line from the Rilke poem Lament, Staffan creates a cyclical narrative through natural landscapes in his quest to surrender the human sense of being and allow oneself to be transcended by nature. The starting point for this cycle is The Lunarium, inspired by an ancient tool for measuring lunar phases, uses the moon as a symbol to explore human attempts to comprehend the natural world. Staffan captures the moon with a surreal intensity, its otherworldly colors suggesting both its unreachable mystique and its pervasive influence on humanity’s psyche. The painting serves as a metaphor for the elusive nature of understanding and the human quest for meaning through the natural symbols surrounding us. In the middle of the cycle there is In the Field Where I Fell and Seeding the Sky. In the Field Where I Fell places the viewer directly within the scene—fallen, perhaps overwhelmed by the vastness of nature, yet intimately connected to it. The title draws inspiration from the final line of Louis Gluck’s poem Witchgrass, the painting pivots around the transformative power of nature and the intense, sometimes overwhelming experiences it can offer. It suggests a narrative of spiritual awakening and personal introspection, framed against the backdrop of the natural world. Seeding the Sky offers a ground-level gaze that immerses the viewer in a quasi-bug-like perspective, suggesting a profound connection to the earth and its sprawling vistas. It invites you to lie back and absorb the world from the grass roots, literally and metaphorically. At the end of the cycle is The Cloud of Unknowing, titled after a writing of Catholic mysticism from the 14th century. The text suggests that the divine can’t be grasped, it is only in moments when you surrender yourself and let the divine wash over you that you can become closer to it. In the painting, the moon peeks out from behind cloud cover, illuminating the sky, as if it could quickly become completely hidden if you were to turn away. It thematically pairs with The Lunarium and it nods to the logical human quests of reason. It invites the viewer to leave reason and self behind to fully embrace the celestial, bringing the cycle of sublime discovery full circle. Samuel Staffan (b. 1998, Russia) was raised in rural northern Michigan and lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. Recent solo exhibitions include Imagined History, curated by Monica King, Antrainq Gallery, New York, NY; and Eternity in an Hour, Antrainq Gallery, New York, NY. Staffan’s work has appeared in group exhibitions at Monica King Contemporary, New York, NY; MePaintsMe; and Hunter College, New York, NY. He has recently collaborated with painter Joshua Hagler, creating the sound in - M+B is pleased to present At Her Fingertips, an exhibition of works by Arghavan Khosravi. This is the artist’s second solo show with the gallery. The exhibition opens on April 27 and will run through June 15, 2024. In Arghavan Khosravi’s exhibition, cultural narratives and political commentary converge within the intricate layers of her mixed-media compositions. Employing multiple techniques, Khosravi integrates trompe l’oeil effects, elements from Persian miniatures like architectural forms and flattened perspectives, and diverse materials including threads and fabrics. Throughout the multi-panel works, she weaves Persian motifs with surreal iconography, capturing the tension between East and West, past and present. Her work intertwines religious and secular imagery with a dreamlike quality that pierces the veil between reality and fantasy. The contradictions inherent in her art provide a profound commentary on the dualities Khosravi navigated growing up in Iran, where she experienced freedom in private spaces while conforming to strict governmental morality laws in public. This personal history enriches her pieces, making them universally relevant. “Our Hair as a Weapon” and The Bird both resonate deeply with the Zan, Zendegi, Azadi (Woman, Life, Freedom) movement, which gained international attention following the death of Mahsa Amini at the hands of Iran’s morality police. In response, women across Iran defiantly removed their hijabs in protest. These works transform human hair into arrows of resistance. The Bird further explores themes of contradiction, featuring both the symbol of a bird—an emblem of freedom, yet often caged—and delicate gold threads attached to a shackle ball, highlighting the tension between liberation and confinement. The Black Box focuses on the lines between restraint and liberation through the striking juxtaposition of traditional Persian miniature aesthetics with modern symbolic elements. A central female figure, face obscured by a stark black box—a recurring motif in Khosravi's work—is bound by chains yet set against a backdrop of vibrant scenes from Iranian paintings, symbolizing the historical and ongoing struggles for female autonomy. This piece subtly interweaves broader socio-political upheavals into its narrative fabric. At Her Fingertips, the work that the exhibition gains its title from, delves into the dynamics of visibility and suppression, utilizing imagery of black chains and golden keys. This artwork contrasts confinement with the potential for freedom, with the dangling key serving as a powerful metaphor for liberation. Both the juxtaposition of gold in the threads coming from her hands and light emanating from her fingers against predominately black tones and the barbed wire that as it branches out towards other parts of the canvas turns into the branches of blossoming trees underscores a thematic glimmer of hope amidst oppression. Khosravi’s adept use of mixed media here articulates a nuanced commentary on the complex pursuit of liberation and the layered experiences of constraint. The exhibition navigates complex social narratives, blending the historical with the contemporary to highlight ongoing struggles for autonomy and identity. In the work's reflection of gender, power, and repression, Khosravi is able to foster a deeper understanding of the transformative role of cultural expression in both personal and political realms. Arghavan Khosravi earned an MFA in painting from the Rhode Island School of Design after completing the studio art program at Brandeis University. Khosravi previously earned a BFA in Graphic Design from Tehran Azad University and an MFA in Illustration from the University of Tehran. She has exhibited both nationally and internationally in solo exhibitions at the Rose Art Museum, Waltham, MA; Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, NH; Koenig Gallery, Berlin, DE; Stems Gallery, Brussels, BE; Kavi Gupta Gallery, Chicago, IL; Carl Kostyal, London, UK; M+B Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; Rachel Uffner Gallery, New York, NY; among others. Recent group exhibitions include Uncombed, Unforeseen, Unconstrained, an official collateral exhibition of the 59th Venice Biennale; as well as exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Yinchuan, CH; Orlando Museum of Art, Orlando, FL; Newport Art Museum, Newport, RI; and Provincetown Art Association and Museum, MA; among others. Khosravi’s work is in the collections of the Rose Art Museum, Waltham, MA; The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Museum; Philadelphia, PA; Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, NH; Newport Art Museum, Newport, RI; and the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, RI. The artist’s work is part of collections at The Rose Art Museum, The PAFA Museum, The Newport Art Museum and The Rhode Island School of Design Museum. Residencies include The Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, NH; The Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, MA; the Studios at MassMoCA, North Adams, MA; Monson Arts, Monson, ME; and Residency Unlimited, Brooklyn, NY. She is a 2019 recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation’s Painters & Sculptors Grant and a 2017 recipient of the Walter Feldman Fellowship.