Elegance and Seduction in Nishan Kazazian’s Use of Perspective

Nélida Nassar  09.02.17

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“Nishan Kazazian: Art, Architecture & Digital Installations” is the latest exhibition of the multitalented architect, artist, and designer in preparation for the launch of his upcoming monograph. Kazazian, an American born in Beirut, Lebanon of Armenian descent, is a licensed architect and artist. He explores the osmotic relationships of art and architecture in all of his oeuvre. His upcoming publication is tentatively titled ” Connecting the Dots: The Architecture and Art of Nishan Kazazian

The exhibition explores the arc of Kazazian’s career from 1972, when he arrived to New York on a Fulbright grant, to 2017. It distills his work into 21 prints of digital installations, 8 photographic installations of digital sculptures, 11 plexiglass constructions, as well as watercolors, drawings, (most with architectural and urban subjects) and some architectural models. Together, these illuminate the complex, ongoing interaction in Kazazian’s work between architecture and its methods and mediums of representation.

Curated by Kazazian himself, the show is devoted to a recurring theme within his work, the radical questioning of some of the most deeply rooted assumptions of art and architecture, especially those that link architectural representation to the physicality of its constructions.

To show how Kazazian developed his practice, and to trace some of the key moments in his artistic trajectory, the retrospective highlights the diverse contexts in which his work has unfolded, ranging from his time as a student in New York, in the early 1970s, to his collaboration on different projects in the USA and abroad. It also touches on his participation in several landmark exhibitions and his academic teaching at several New York universities.

For more than half a century, Erwin Panofsky’s Perspective as Symbolic Form has dominated studies of visual representation, yet despite the hegemony of central projection, or perspective, other equally important methods of representation have much to tell us and Kazazian, with his plexiglass fragments separated into various planes, continues to question the perspective narrative. His approach suggests the influence of Cubism and Russian Constructivism (Vladimir Tatlin, Alexander Rodchenko and his wife Varvara Stepanova, Lyubov Popova, El Lissitzky and Alexei Gan). However, Kazazian’s pictures and objects, in addition to the sharp geometric lines that typically form the fragmented Cubist or Constructivist image, employ curvilinear lines and rounded forms, predominantly using a palette of four colors (yellow, red, black and white) reminiscent of Piet Mondrian. The depth and perspective are skewed and the forms of the objects fluctuate from extremely complex to excessively minimalistic.

The constant motion of the geometrically shaped units embodies the dynamism of modernity. Through his persistent experiments with materials, Kazazian has gained an understanding of and appreciation for natural structures, and has clearly sought to emulate them.

The titles Kazazian chose for two series of sculptural works are “Shifting Shadows” and “Synergic Landscape.” Here, he attempts to preserve a singular moment in the natural world, capturing deeply pigmented sunsets and brightly-lit environments. He also suggests an intensification of the object’s relationship with the surrounding space. However, these pieces do not extend into space in all directions. Instead they draw attention to their surface transparency and painted color with revealed screws attachments of various shapes and sizes fixed to the highly smooth and polished plexiglass. This particular selection of materials and construction seems to evoke a testament of a way of living in the new society and solidifies Kazazian’s position as a true innovator and architect. Kazazian’s practice can be seen in this show in all its rich and diverse forms, clever use of perspective and a desire for universality.

East Hampton, New York
Opening Saturday September 2, 2017
5p.m. – 8 p.m.
Exhibition will continue by appointment