It’s as if I’m pushing through massive mountains
through hard veins, like solitary ore;
and I’m so deep that I can see no end
and no distance: everything became nearness
and all the nearness turned to stone.
I’m still a novice in the realm of pain,---
so this enormous darkness makes me small;
But if it’s You--- steel yourself, break in:
that your whole hand will grip me
and my whole scream will seize you.
-Rainer Maria Rilke, The Book of Hours, 1905
The esoteric connotations of Rilke’s poem encapsulate the inherent mysticism found in the work of Hedieh Javanshir Ilchi. Both Rilke’s poetry and Ilchi’s imagery have the power to incite the alchemy of the mind. He implements each word with the fullest intention, however small. Like Rilke’s words, Ilchi’s brush strokes are surgically applied, exquisite in execution and commanding in form. Her Iranian roots inform these patterns, called Tazhib, or the art of illumination, used to adorn the margins of historical books. They reference a culture long-oppressed by internal and external forces and also nurturing of deeply beautiful traditions. These patterns, born of tradition, exist amidst the lyrical chaos of poured paint, which she projects across the surface without control. This kind of “action painting” is distinctly Western, and lays the foundation for each composition. Once the paint dries, a topography forms, at once familiar and strange. It beckons Ilchi to search for herself in the peaks and valleys of paint. This binary sense of identity propels her to articulate a vision that reconciles all the things that define her. She can be everything and nothing at all; nearness and stone.
Everything became nearness and all the nearness turned to stone is Hedieh Javanshir Ilchi’s debut exhibition at Hemphill Fine Arts.