Farrah Karapetian, Lifesaver, 2015 (detail). Image courtesy of the artist and Von Lintel Gallery.

Farrah Karapetian, Lifesaver, 2015 (detail). Image courtesy of the artist and Von Lintel Gallery.

Von Lintel Gallery:

Farrah Karapetian

For her second exhibition with Von Lintel Gallery, Farrah Karapetian has produced a thoughtful new series comprising 12 large-scale Chromogenic photograms. The show’s title, “Relief,” is a direct reference to the perilous flight of the refugee at sea while other allusions to the refugee’s journey manifest in a variety of forms. Among them are a handful of white, negative shadows that include a life preserver and an unfurling ladder. Each stands stark against rich palettes that effortlessly blend saturated tones of rust, green and gold.

While the vibrant color schemes that occupy these new works are the result of Karapetian’s careful selection of filters (one step in an entailed process involving its share of premeditation), her decision to use less conventional materials as conduits for light, such as metal and plastic, is what lends to this particular series’ prevailing sense of inadvertency.

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Farrah Karapetian, Call Her Craft, 2015, Chromogenic photogram. Image courtesy of the artist and Von Lintel Gallery.

Most intriguing are the reactions Karapetian achieved from her experiments with ice. They are what call attention to the work’s formal qualities and illuminate the physicality of the artist’s process. What look like brewing bubbles in Lifesaver (all works 2015), flickering flames in Bluffs, and shards of glass in Slippage are in fact the spontaneous results of this volatile and transitory compound interacting with treated paper at the moment of exposure.  

Considering all that could go wrong when working with such unpredictable materials, Karapetian’s efforts glisten with an air of mystique. An innovative mingling of figurative art and abstraction, “Relief” is a compelling series, commendable most for its capacity in capturing the essence of the instant and its precarious nature, which like the refugee in search of asylum is ever and always subject to chance.

Farrah Karapetian, “Relief,” January 9 – March 5, 2016 at Von Lintel Gallery, 2685 S. La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034, www.vonlintel.com.