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Taravat Talepasand’s Desert Storm (2016) pictures a luridly red landscape—if it can be said to resemble land insomuch as a disturbingly-hued cloud. To the lower right of the painting are a small cluster of figures, both humanizing and further complicating one’s sense of scale. Leaning in and squinting a bit, we see what they are up to—ten men, lacking in pants, in an ecstatic anal sex chain.
Much of Talepasand’s work in Westoxicated, currently on view at Zevitas Marcus, functions in this manner—explicit references to sexuality and drugs, blasphemed religious and state iconography. Talepasand operates in the socio-emotional zone between repression and its over-correcting inverse, hedonism. Her frequent references to drugs seem designed to fade or fatigue the potency of symbols which, in Iran’s theocracy, often intertwine representations of state and religion.
Talepasand laces Iranian currency with acid (Microdosing Iran, Edition of 79, 2016), and grotesquely exaggerates the female form in Virgin Mary-esque porcelain figurines (Blasphemy: Tagged, 2016). She figures Khomeini (2015) as a visage on a crumbling poster, but in a medium (egg tempera) that has the capacity to keep the image echoing through multiple generations. Iconography and media alike comprise a vast time scale.
It can be difficult to find coherence in Talepasand’s work, no matter it’s occasional cohesion and visual richness. Drugs in particular often overwhelm the narrative (as drugs are wont to do)—Talepasand plays with this in Reified (2016), wherein a figuration (a face) on the edge of dissolve elides it’s own title. Using hash oil to draw a figure (Blasphemy) points to conceptualism: one could, presumably, get high if one smoked the drawing. A rather expensive way to achieve disorientation (the piece is valued at 3000 USD).
Taravat Talepasand: Westoxicated runs January 7-March 18, 2017 at Zevitas Marcus (2754 S La Cienega Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90034).