Chariots of the Gauze: Nader Ebrahimi

Paintings and Photographs | 31 GRAND

Muscle cars from the ’70s form the seductive core of this show, which features romantic photographs and paintings. The artist, a San Francisco native, has presumably chosen this iconic subject matter because of its allure and allusiveness, and the probing, nostalgic tone is at once elegiac and liberating.

A series of seven photographs, each measuring about 15 inches square, shows sexy cars tightly cropped, the images focused on a couple of curves and a dulcet nocturnal sheen. The resonance of memory is further evoked by the handheld and time-elapsed technique, which glosses over details, compressing the image. Nova, Galaxie, Riviera, Fury—the artist puts you in the driver’s seat, transporting you to eerie highways of youthful Hegiras. One of the larger photographs shows a telephone pole as if glimpsed in a consuming blue twilight blur through the window of a moving car. It’s an intimate moment and a powerful picture, hinting at our mutual transcendence while portraying the monumental.

The paintings are the flipside of the portraits of cars. Now we’re on the inside, and the trick for the artist is to capture the landscape and convey the viewer’s velocity. And he does a bangup job on several paintings, one of them, Muir Woods, being a completed pastoral, with no evidence of passing stripes, guardrails, or tail lights. This is an important piece for Ebrahimi, because it opens up new vistas for his vision, and also because he really captures something. The piece moves in more ways than one.

Even when Ebrahimi picks up the brush, he hasn’t completely put down the camera. The artist uses video taken from a traveling car as a study to help distill the sense of passage. I’m looking forward to where Ebrahimi is going to take us next. If it’s as good as this show, I’m sure it’ll be a trip you won’t want to miss.

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