my stories run, run

June 10 - August 14, 2021
Pierre-Francois Ouellette Gallery

Photo : Pierre-François Ouellette
Through the meanders of this exhibition, three Iranian-Canadian artists - Shahla Bahrami, Shabnam K. Ghazi and Leila Zelli - patiently weave delicate intimate spaces. Their individual concerns echo one another in surprising ways as they set out to explore with sensitive lucidity the subtle materiality of things infused by gesture, poetic writing and political allusion.

Autobiographical excerpts from diaries, quotes from past readings, censored texts or the verses of poets Rumi, Hafez and Omar Khayyam are literally woven into the substratum of the works Gabbeh, Persian Carpet and The Sacred Landscapes: parcels of memories nestled in scripts whose personal significance we intuit along with the panorama of a culture burdened by censorship of free artistic expression.

To thwart the crush of a univocal History, the three artists double down on small fragmented narrations. Shabnam K. Ghazi uses Persian calligraphy known as Siyah Mashq to fill in all directions pages that she then silkscreens on Japanese paper and cuts into strips reassembled as the final work. Shahla Bahrami literally incorporates into the food words of power that correlate with the act of swallowing. Je mange ma langue plays on both self-censorship that internalizes imposed meanings and external censorship expressed as the devouring of others' identities. For her part, Leila Zelli institutes allusive relationships between pairs of images. Petals of a Damascus rose that are falling alongside the folded pages of her grandmother's old Koran hint at the religious wars now threatening the disappearance of the legendary flower and the surrounding people.

Beyond the constraints they express, these discreet scenarios unfold freely in works that allow for multiple spaces of expression. They invite us to consider ideological walls as screens that disintegrate in a fluid vision.

Pierre-François Ouellette and Marie-Jeanne Musiol conceived this exhibition with the artists.