Works on Paper from 8 Visionary Artists

December 10 - 23, 2020
Shiva Ahmadi
Marco Castillo
Kota Ezawa
Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian
Andy Goldsworthy
Mike Henderson
Carole Seborovski
David Simpson
“Drawings are marked by a sense of discovery that is visible in the works themselves.” 
—Curator Ruth Fine
Encompassing a diverse range of media — from graphite drawings to watercolors and collages — works on paper offer an insightful window into an artist’s creative process. Far from being considered studies or experiments, each of the works on paper offered below represents an important mode of art-making in its own right — one reflecting the freedom and immediacy that only working on paper affords.


  • Shiva Ahmadi draws from the artistic traditions of Iran — specifically, the ancient tradition of Persian miniature painting — to reflect on contemporary geopolitical tensions. Ahmadi often uses beauty to seduce the viewer, creating exquisitely crafted scenes that slowly reveal dangers within. Her fantasy realms feature chained and bloodied figures, animals running rampant, and fortified oil refineries and nuclear power plants, manifesting themes of violence and corruption. Ahmadi’s smaller scale watercolors on paper demonstrate her control of the medium, with atmospheric washes of color overlaid with precisely applied details in vibrant hues of green, gold, and red.


  • In The Decorator’s Home, his first body of work as a solo artist, Marco Castillo merges elements of architecture, sculpture, and design to examine the politically-inflected aesthetic traditions of post-Revolution Cuba. Embodying a fictional designer, Castillo pays homage to a forgotten generation of modernist Cuban artists, architects, and designers. In both large- and small-scale works on paper, abstract compositions of geometric forms call to mind architectural blueprints, mid-century Atomic design, and the five-pointed Communist star. Throughout the series, Castillo incorporates materials and techniques native to Cuba such as mahogany wood and woven rattan.


  • Kota Ezawa’s multimedia practice appropriates well-known images from the news, art history, and popular culture, exploring the photographic record’s validity as a mediator of actual events and experiences. These watercolors from Ezawa’s critically acclaimed National Anthem series depict professional NFL athletes taking a knee during the pre-game playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner", protesting police brutality inflicted upon Black Americans. Each hand-painted work features key moments in the controversial protests — athletes kneeling or linking arms in solidarity, or the empty scene resulting when players were banned from on-field protests — drawn from broadcast footage and social media, offering a powerful meditation on protest, patriotism, solidarity, and hope.


  • One of the most influential Middle Eastern artists of her generation, Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian’s singular vision was articulated through intricate mirror mosaics and works on paper that fuse the traditional art and architecture of Iran, pristine geometry, and the reductive abstraction of the 20th century. Farmanfarmaian’s extraordinary works on paper reveal her bold innovations in this medium, and constitute a significant portion of her oeuvre. With their jewel-like surfaces and kaleidoscopic compositions of interlocking forms, the works are at once meditative and dynamic, expressive and analytic.


  • UK artist Andy Goldsworthy creates permanent and ephemeral sculptures that examine our relationship to the land and nature, impermanence, and the passage of time. Each of Goldsworthy’s permanent sculptures and installations are the result of his rigorous investigation of the landscape, its character and its history, and make use of techniques and materials local to the site. A plan for one such installation, Proposed Wall Division Sheep Sculpture features one of Goldsworthy’s best known forms: the meandering stone wall that draws on British agricultural traditions.


  • Bay Area painter Mike Henderson is best known for his abstract, highly gestural paintings that demonstrate his instinct for color and improvisation. In contrast to his thickly layered oil paintings, Henderson’s application of paint in his Parallel Spaces works on paper is sparse, translucent at times, framed and sometimes interrupted by negative space. Here, the difference in approach grew from the character of acrylic paint, which dries more rapidly and is less conducive to the mixing of colors, requiring the artist to work in quick and decisive motions. Brightly hued vertical lines recall curtains or blinds, pulling apart here and there to reveal something just beyond; or the warp and weft of woven fabric.


  • Central to the Bay Area art scene since the 1950s, David Simpson’s diverse painting practice weaves together impulses of minimalism and hard-edged abstraction. Simpson’s works on paper utilize metallic interference pigments that interact with light to create illusions of depth, shadow and hue. Each piece has its own unpredictable characteristics, and every shift of light is refracted against the paint, resulting in highly energized, active surfaces. Reminiscent of a landscape in their horizontal alignment, the final works have a surreal, almost dreamlike quality. Whether possessing an exotic, whimsical, or moody ambience, each enigmatically titled work remains singular and engrossing.


  • Carole Seborovski’s works on paper are defined by their monochromatic palettes and a careful balance of form and texture. The artist has said that art “connects us to the unknown,” and her elegant and enigmatic works make references to both Surrealism and Minimalism. With its dark graphite sheen, the titular form in Seborovski’s Black Diamond appears to float tantalizingly above the concentric ink-wash circles behind it, beckoning viewers into the composition.