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Pantea Karimi: Artful Attacks

June 18, 2021 - July 24, 2021

Three square images in a row, all yellow and black, the center featuring a glare of white—these right-angled, geometric mazes seem to be woven out of letters, words, phrases.

JUNE 18 – JULY 24

In the past few months, while working on her new series Artful Attacks, Karimi has been preoccupied with thoughts of political pressure and sanctions on Iran. The title refers to the mysterious attacks that have targeted Iran’s nuclear power plants in the historic city of Natanz. Her new body of work was shaped organically as a reaction to the coverage of these incidents in the media. As a result, Karimi’s 42-foot-long scroll drawings visualize deconstructed, interrupted, and ambiguously arranged geometric patterns as a metaphor for political pressure and tension.

In her pieces, Karimi has appropriated geometric and tiling patterns with Kufic script from a 97-foot late medieval Iranian document called the Topkapi scroll housed at the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, Turkey.

In a group of ceramic tiles, Karimi used words that surfaced in both the Iranian press and mainstream western media, such as cyberattack, sanctions, nuclear power, covert war, mysterious explosion, and political tension. Like Kufic geometric ceramic tiles found in the Topkapi scroll as well as Natanz historic shrines and mosques, Karimi’s Kufic arrangements are composed in a somewhat undecipherable manner. The choice for the pairing of black and yellow comes from the standard nuclear power logo.

Through erasing, blurring, re-drawing, de-coloring, and re-coloring the same patterns, Karimi creates new patterns and disturbed surfaces. Artful Attacks is comprised of large scroll drawings, ceramic Kufic tiles, and performative videos collectively representing her emotional unease at constant threats to the historical city of Natanz and its medieval architecture—as an exemplar of the whole Iranian culture and nation.

Pantea Karimi is an Iranian-American painter, printmaker and graphic designer. Her work as a multidisciplinary artist explores the intersection of art, science and history through medieval Persian, Arab and early modern European scientific manuscripts and documents. Karimi has exhibited her works in solo, group and traveling exhibitions in Iran, Algeria, Germany, Croatia, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Her works are in private and public collections including the University of California, Davis and Stanford University. She is the recipient of the 2022 Mass MoCA The Studios Residency Award, the 2021 University of California San Francisco Library Artist in Residence Award, the 2020 Holding the Moment Art Award, the 2019 City of San Jose Arts and Cultural Exchange Grant, a 2019 Silicon Valley Artist Laureates Award, and a Kala Fellowship-Residency Award in 2017. Karimi lives in San Jose and maintains a studio in the Cubberley Artist Studios in Palo Alto.


Mercury 20 Gallery
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Wheelchair accessible, Service Animals allowed
BIPOC-owned, BIPOC-curated, BIPOC artist(s), Women-owned, Women curated, Women artist(s), LGBTQIA+ owned, LGBTQIA+ curated, LGBTQIA+ artist(s)
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Mercury 20 Gallery
475 25th Street
Oakland, CA 94612 United States
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