Maryam Hoseini wields abstraction as a tool for flattening and blending social space. In “Of Strangers and Parrots,” her first solo show with this gallery, stripes become serpents, limbs become lakes, and penciled-in leg hairs become hieroglyphs. Whole figures are discernable, but they are piled on top of one another or stacked. This collapse of body and background into airless, stylized planes creates unease.
Born in Tehran, I.R.I., Hoseini captures empty historical echoes as bodies walk among the literal and figurative, the visible and invisible ruins of objects and architectures. Reflecting on her experiences of Iran and its homosocial atmosphere, where women may only socialize with their own gender, Hoseini rethinks and restages these scenes in her work, in which only women are depicted. In the context of the censored female figure, Hoseini presents her subjects as nude, cast simultaneously as unrealistically flattened diagrams of the human body, and hyperrealistic disembodied limbs covered in hair.
Hoseini’s small-scale works of ink, acrylic, and pencil on panel extend architecturally into the exhibition space through site-specific wall paintings. These interjections within the gallery’s white cube serve as a way in which the artist rebuilds and elevates these fractured stories, now sturdily supported with weighted columns of opaque color. The wall paintings additionally relate to Hoseini’s maintained interest in the body, functioning almost as flattened, wrapped dresses, covering the body for which the panel is the head, and rendering each work in its entirety abstractly figural.