Thu 7 Sep 2023 to Wed 11 Oct 2023
Artist: Naeemeh Kazemi
Leila Heller Gallery presents artist Naeemeh Kazemi’s solo show ‘La La Land’.
Predominately a sculptor, Naeemeh Kazemi began painting in 2020 when the lockdown started since she could not get to her studio. She worked on these magical canvases in her one bedroom apartment in Iran, which helped her escape the confinement of quarantine and transported her to fantastical places. Living in Iran, Kazemi has had to take creative approaches to her meanings through symbols, so as to not get in trouble with the Iranian government. Her themes of environmental and virus anxiety, feminism, and humanity are disguised in her enchanting paintings through tokens and motifs of the natural world, classical paintings, and quotidian objects.
In her most recent “La La Land” series, she depicts a world that is intertwined yet fragmented. It is as if familiar pieces float strangely in space. In her complex yet highly composed paintings, Kazemi ponders the questions “Could the whole history of the world be a mere misunderstanding?” and “Is it possible that man, with all his discoveries, developments, culture, religion, and global wisdom is just lingering on only to the outward of life?” This series reflects Kazemi’s feelings and anxieties towards the world, exacerbated by the Covid pandemic quarantine instated since March 2020. She says, “I’m incredibly scared because I know we will soon annihilate this enlivening life- giving planet. A planet that soon gets a shell from skulls, bones, and dead machines. No one can do anything for her. We lost the game!” Kazemi creates an oasis sheltered from these fears in this series. A “La La Land,” clearly fictitious, but serving as a safe haven from the uncertain world.
Her work aims to reflect her constant state of questioning, anxiety, and interrogation with herself. She says “tense dreamy moments occur, which rushes blood to my cheeks.” The viewer can see these feelings depicted in the flourishing flora and fauna and bright, enchanting colors. But then, “a moment later, silent, unsure, tired, and depressed.” These juxtaposed feelings are sensed in the canvas through the lingering portraits- eyes hidden, hands floating, and plants tangled in a web. Ultimately, through these symbols, themes, and meanings, Kazemi is questioning life itself. For Kazemi, her works are not set in a final reality. She explores the system of meanings and understands that it is constantly changing and new realities are born every day. While first brought upon by the uncertainties of social and personal health by the pandemic, her investigation of finding meaning in life remains true for past, present, and future generations.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Naeemeh Kazemi (b.1981, Tehran, Iran) is a visual artist who has an MA in painting. She has been working as a professional artist in Iran since 2002. For 5 years, she worked solely on children’s art and participated as an expert in the Cultural Exchange Project of Iran.
Naeemeh is fascinated by the world of children’s art, which influenced and inspired her early sculptures that were precise in their peculiarity and embodied the more monstrous facets of a child’s imagination. Naeemeh is explorative in her medium choice and unafraid to venture into new artistic practices. For years, she was influenced by the craft of Persian Rugs and studied the patterns, designs, colors and textures in this field. Whilst she wasn’t drawn to toys and puppets in her childhood, her visual practice now includes making dolls, and she has found joy in these memorials of childhood’s banality.
There is no final reality in Naeemeh’s works. She believes that the system of meaning is constantly changing and new realities are born every day. To Naeemeh, it is as if the world is meaningless and in this abyss, she can write her own rules, where everyone is welcome to join and play. Naeemeh tries to connect the past with the present by using themes from the masters of the renaissance. She is constantly experimenting with different themes and inspirations to create the beautiful chaos present in her work.
The cheerful childish humor of her unique artistic language is evident across all mediums she works with and shines through the materiality of her pieces. After 12 years of continuous activity in the fields of sculpture and rug design, her first collection of paintings is available from 2021.