The French artist, Arman, inspired Ramin Salsali’s collection of European and Middle Eastern sculptural works amassed over 20 years. Arman’s evolution from abstract painting to his iconic “accumulation” sculptures, which referenced and built upon a Duchampian combination of manufactured objects, was the personal catalyst for Sculptureand the foundation for this survey of sculpture’s progression as artists engaged newfound technologies. With each work serving as a historical and technological time capsule as much as a simple visual expression, they revisit alchemy, nature and spirituality, as well as touch on mid-twentieth-century art movements before documenting the introduction of mass media. Sculpture asks viewers to look at what has been in order to consider “What’s next?” as digitalization and technologies such as 3D printing become inextricably ingrained in contemporary life.
As sculpture’s purpose shifted from storytelling and idolatry to mimesis and symbols of power, hope and history that are in danger of being destroyed, Arman’s works, alongside a selection of sculptures produced between 1950–2015, present a dialogue between the dichotomous philosophies of tradition and modernity. The paradigm shift away from the ‘handmade’ during the Modernist period towards an embracement of more sophisticated technologies allowed advancements in art production that altered the (non-) malleability of natural laws, granting artists the ability to create with greater ease, sharper precision and in larger quantities. It eased the artist’s task of translating their observations of the present into three-dimensional terms and facilitated their negotiation of the constraints of physics and the infinite imagined possibilities. Though it downplayed the ‘human touch’, negating traditional hand-contoured and studied approaches in favour of updated techniques and machinery has proven a useful tool in tackling the increasing complexities of contemporary concerns such as globalization, technological growth and political conflict.
The heightened accuracy and feasibility of an artistic vision may bode well for creative innovation, but the double-edged sword of technology making the impossible achievable and leading to the potential democratization of art may also have a hubristic after-effect. Artists are guardians of tradition and torchbearers for the future, where do they stand when able to bend physical and theoretical boundaries? What becomes of the notion of artistry as it moves from hand to machine? Sculpturedoes not propose the answers to the still-unknown consequences of a rapidly changing artistic landscape and whether these are the last few traces of the handmade. Instead, Sculpture is a moment of contemplation of where the medium has been before considering where it will go as it surges forward, conceptually and formally transcending aesthetic and theoretical parameters.
Artists include Ibrahim Abumsmar; Arman; Rafael Barrios; Simin Ekrami; Bita Fayyazi, Farzaneh Hosseini; Behdad Lahooti; Alistair Mackie; Moataz Nasr; Mehdi Nebavi; Farnaz Rabieijah; Hazem Harb; Patricia Millns; Zak Ove; Kambiz Sabri; Samuel Salcedo, Parviz Tanavoli; Morteza Zahedi; Burçak Bingol; Sara Rahbar, among others.