Negar Ahkami: Fantasy Will Set You Free

On View: April 14 – June 2, 2018

Wyatt Resident Artists Gallery

Negar Ahkami creates expressive, tactile paintings inspired by Iranian art and the many global visual traditions that intersect with Iran’s rich art history. Ahkami’s emphasis on rhythm and viscerality over virtuosity is inspired by NYC street art of the 1980s, German expressionism, and urban street life and dance club culture. The imagined dancers in Fantasy Will Set You Free invoke dance floors from the artist’s youth, from New York City night clubs, to parties organized by Ahkami’s parents for the growing Iranian immigrant community in the 1980s and 1990s. The work in Fantasy Will Set You Free places Iranian art and humanity in a broader, joyful context, continuing Ahkami’s longtime engagement with Orientalism and stereotype subversion. Above all, the exhibition is an impassioned escape from depressing news, for the viewer as well as the artist. Ahkami relives the spirit of the dance floor in her studio, by getting lost in spontaneous gestures, flamboyant poses, and a riot of rhythmic patterns.


Negar Ahkami was born in Baltimore and raised in the New York City area. She attended The Art Students League of New York in her formative years, received her BA from Columbia University in Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures, and her MFA from School of Visual Arts, NY. She has participated in Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Workspace Residency and Governor’s Island Residency, and AAC’s Long-term Artist Residency since 2016. She has had three solo exhibitions in New York at Leila Heller Gallery and LMAK Projects. Her work has been included in group exhibits in museums and galleries, and is represented nationally and internationally in public, corporate and private art collections, such as The New Britain Museum of American Art, Depaul University Art Museum, and the Farjam Collection (UAE). Her work has been reviewed and written about in The New York Times, ArtNews and in various art books such as Talinn Grigor, Contemporary Iranian Art: From the Street to the Studio (Reaktion, 2014), Different Sames, New Perspectives in Contemporary Iranian Art (Thames & Hudson 2009), and others.


Opening Reception: April 14, 6–9pm
Gallery Talk: June 2, 1-3pm


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