There was a time, that of Greenberg or Berger, when art would transport a viewer to a land far away. In front of a picture, a mind could shed its mundane concerns and experience realities alien to the gallery. Post the art world’s political turn, however, such thoughts are pure nostalgia.
Aghbashian’s project, crowding four canvases into a room the size of an art fair booth, may have been an attempt to return to this space of pure imagination. Indeed, her allegorical abstractions contrasting horizons and figures hark to a glorious tradition.
They stand no chance, however. Aghbashian’s gallerist, claiming the exhibition space entirely for herself, directs all minds straight to a market stall with her uninterruptable recitation of the artist’s life story and the work’s pedigree. These tedious details lock the wandering mind on the hollow nodes of identity production and market value.
The carpet dealer’s zeal overpowers all paint. In so doing, however, it does the viewer the ultimate favour of highlighting the artist’s full complicity with the sales patter and thus the work’s lamentable inadequacy.