“Displacement” is a series of drawings by Arminée Chahbazian. In these works, life forms and nature’s trappings are set against vast and monumental locations. The artist cites the importance of the contrast between the micro scale of her organisms and subjects and the macro scale of their settings. However, the existence of the locations and the animals or objects in these works is fraught with more than just the tension of their contrasting scales.
In reality, these pictures depend on disruption. This is a gentle disruption that begs for contemplative consideration. The soft graphite renderings and the buttery layers of duralar give these works a sense of quiet that is then jarringly interrupted. In some works, her subjects penetrate the layers of the duralar, floating under and over the landscape. Like scale, perspective is
manipulated to achieve the disarming and dreamlike effect.
Compositionally, these works perform Surrealist poetry, where jellyfish tentacles echo and rhyme with a crashing waterfall. A sea urchin floats in harmony with a waning moon, and a honeycomb mirrors the cracks in a parched earth.
There is a tempo and volume to her work that quietly demands pause, softly insists upon contemplation. The artist considers her verdant Northern Californian location as crucial to her practice. Chahbazian’s titles such as “Tidal Impact” suggest the impending doom of our environment.
Chahbazian is deeply concerned with the state of our world and its inhabitants. However, these works are not just cautionary environmentalism, showing life forms under siege from pollution or deforestation. This is not just about nature, it’s about the very nature of these beings. They are not supposed to be where they are, and it’s unclear how they came to be there. They are not invasive, if anything, we get a sense of alarm – something has occurred that has caused them to be removed from what might be their normal residence and has now floated them in a place that is still natural, but unnatural to them. Her subjects’ existence is defined not by their place in the setting, nor are her settings by their role as such, but by the disruptive element.
And while the essence of these subjects has not changed, (the frog is still a frog) we consider these subjects differently as a result.
Arminee Chahbazian studied at Skowhegen, received her BA from Scripps, and her MFA from Yale University.
Arminée Chahbazian: Displacement
Exhibition Dates: September 8 – November 3, 2018
Opening Reception: Saturday, September 8th, 6pm – 9pm
Lois Lambert Gallery
2525 Michigan Ave E3
Santa Monica, CA 90404