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Nasim Hantehzadeh, Honor Titus and Veronica Ryan: The Highlights

On 7th January, we hosted our first private tour of 2023, viewing the work of three artists who each engage in a critical component of the contemporary art conversation: reflecting on the current state of affairs and equipping we viewers with new tools and techniques with which to engage with the world around us. Ideally, such new systems may offer improved alternatives that otherwise unfairly suffocate minority groups.

View during Artscope's tour at Pippy Houldworth, 2023. Photo by Kate Fensterstock.
View during Artscope's tour at Pippy Houldworth, 2023. Photo by Kate Fensterstock.

Artscope aims to teach and engage enthusiasts of modern and contemporary art, both experts and novices alike. Our museum and gallery tours directly expose our network to the art that is making a difference in the world today, and offers a social experience through which to connect with like-minded people. We didn't waste a moment of 2023, and kicked off the new year with a visit to Nasim Hantehzadeh at Pippy Houldsworth, Honor Titus at Timothy Taylor and Veronica Ryan at Alison Jacques.


Contemporary art in particular is constantly considering how to create new worlds that encourage fluidity and alternate perspectives, forever challenging us viewers to keep thinking in a free and different way. Our last group saw such a theme addressed in the work of David Altmejd and Marcel Dzama, whose preoccupations were with climate crisis and human destiny. Iranian-American artist Nasim Hantehzadeh, whose pronouns are they/them, is inspired by folklore, science, fantasy and spirituality and how through the power of creativity and imagination, one can blend such influences to generate something utterly unique. Ideally, minority communities are thus provided an equal platform and control of their identities, a theme of paramount importance right now for Iranian women. Narrative equality was also a hard focus for Amy Sherald at Hauser and Wirth.

Display of Nasim Hantehzadeh works at Pippy Houldworth, 2023. Photo by Kate Fensterstock.
Display of Nasim Hantehzadeh works at Pippy Houldworth, 2023. Photo by Kate Fensterstock.

Elements of Hantehzadeh's practice includes colourful humanoid figuration that free flow without or with very little dimension, establishing a fantastical atmosphere free of limitations on space and time. Form and design comes from Palaeolithic cave paintings, Mexican indigenous art and Persian rug patterns, alluding to a universal creative mode of expression and critically, referencing systems of matriarchy and gender fluidity that were embraced prior to European colonisation. The query raised here regarding the legitimacy of Western-centric ideologies is surfaced in Veronica Ryan's work, continuing this conversation surrounding shifting viewpoints and creating new frameworks.

Display of Veronica Ryan works at Alison Jacques, 2023. Photo by Kate Fensterstock.
Display of Veronica Ryan works at Alison Jacques, 2023. Photo by Kate Fensterstock.

Winner of the 2022 Turner Prize and participant in the 2022 Whitney Biennial, Veronica Ryan's exhibition at Alison Jacques could not be missed, heralding the end of a highly successful year for the artist. The body of work at Alison Jacques features displays of various seeds, cast in ceramic and bronze, that are bound or scattered on different surfaces or strung around the gallery in woven baskets and nets. Ryan considers how seeds, like any living organism, can thrive or die in the environment in which it exists, again alluding to this question of perspective, social justice and frameworks that can either limit or liberate humanity.

Display of Veronica Ryan works at Alison Jacques, 2023. Photo by Kate Fensterstock.
Display of Veronica Ryan works at Alison Jacques, 2023. Photo by Kate Fensterstock.

The containers that harvest these seeds and transport them consider commercialism and Western control of natural produce, going as far to question food equality and wealth distribution. She considers how chocolate was originally saved for sacred rituals in pre-Hispanic cultures, before being defiled as the mass-industrialised commodity we know today.

Honor Titus canvases at Timothy Taylor, 2023. Photo by Kate Fensterstock.
Honor Titus canvases at Timothy Taylor, 2023. Photo by Kate Fensterstock.

Honor Titus' painted portraits were a diversion in terms of medium, but he too chooses to focus on a social institution and provide us with a different lens through which to view this tradition. In his latest show Bourgeoisie in Bloom, the artist's ongoing interest in ritual, nostalgia and class is handled through the practice of debutante balls and cotillions. His scenes that feature the young and innocent on the cusp of entering adulthood, are rife with subtle suggestions of scepticism, alienation, and other darker sides to coming of age.

Honor Titus, "Shimmering Jubilee", 2022. Photo by Kate Fensterstock.
Honor Titus, "Shimmering Jubilee", 2022. Photo by Kate Fensterstock.

Through minimal brushwork and careful attention to detail such as the subject's gaze and placement in the scene, Titus pulls back the curtain to reveal the unfortunate realities of society's expectations, limitations and unjust systems of reference. One truly captivating painting features a girl alone on a terrace where fireworks explode in the background. Her expression is melancholic, indicating she has withdrawn from a moment of celebration to be alone in her forlorn state. Another image presents a scene that extends beyond the canvas, where a debutante sits alone with a glass of champagne at a table for two. Her gaze is to her far left, and she displays a look of discomfort she tries desperately to control. We do not know what occurs to her left hand side, we are left to witness her feelings only as she wishes to reveal them, one of these unfortunate realities of "appropriate" social behaviour.

Honor Titus, "Prestige Cuvée", 2022. Photo by Kate Fensterstock.
Honor Titus, "Prestige Cuvée", 2022. Photo by Kate Fensterstock.

Artscope's goal in curating these gallery and museum experiences for our community is to enjoy great art, but also to reflect on the pressing social and political issues that dominate our society. Conversations in contemporary art surrounding perspective, social justice, and how to review and reconstruct the frameworks that dictate our realities are vital in making critical improvements to our culture. Through Hantehzadeh, Ryan and Titus' work we are given plenty of food for thought, and perhaps inspiration to act.


For more information on private programmes, please email kate@artscopeintl.com.


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