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Artist Check In – Naomi Safran-Hon

 

“I interrogate the concept of home as both a physical place and a common ground for the conflict between fiction and truth.” 

 

Brooklyn-based artist Naomi Safran-Hon was looking forward to the opening of her latest solo exhibition at SLAG Gallery on April 20. “All My Lovers,” which features 15 mixed media paintings that combine photographs with lace, concrete, wire, textiles, and PVC piping, is the inaugural exhibition in SLAG’s new Chelsea location on 19th Street, across from David Zwirner Gallery. As COVID19 began to spread across New York, closing business and services across the city, both the artist and gallery realized that the opening would not proceed as planned. “By April 3rd, when only essential businesses were to remain open, we knew that the gallery could not open to the public,” said Safran-Hon, “but the gallery director, Irina Protopopescu, and I wanted to go ahead and install the artworks, as this is a process that can be done safely by just a few people working within distancing guidelines. The installation was complete in mid-April. SLAG launched a virtual tour on April 17, which can be accessed here: 

http://www.slaggallery.com/brooklyn_art_gallery/exhibitions/20200420-all-my-lovers 

 

While the doors are open only by appointment, passersby can see one of the largest works on view through an expansive window facing the street. Taking Me For Granted depicts a decaying wall, faintly resembling a multi-panel screen, in an arresting palette of bright blues, yellows, browns, and the signature concrete that is a hallmark of Safran-Hon’s practice. To create her paintings, Safran-Hon begins with photographs of presentday Wadi Salib, a neighborhood in her family home of Haifa, Israel, that used to be home to Palestinians inhabitants before the area was confiscated by the state of Israel in 1948. The photographs of Wadi Salib capture the partially destroyed homes and buildings of a once vibrant community, highlighting the experience of displaced Palestinians who could not return to their homes after the establishment of the state of Israel. Safran-Hon mounts her photographs to stretched canvas, cutting holes into them before pushing cement through a layer of lace.  

 The stark contrast between the concrete and lace creates an intentional feeling of displacement: the cement, a major component of the wall between Israel and Palestine, and the lace, a delicate fabric and marker of domestic life, violently collide. As critic Christian Holland observes, This process literalizes the entropic decay of the concrete walls, halls, and doorways of the former living spaces in Safran-Hon’s photographs, but in so doing, plumbs the precarious line between fiction and truth, myth and reality.” In this and many of the other works on view, the artist layers and entwines her tactile materials with such deft complexity that her paintings become dimensional and immersive.  

Safran-Hon says she completed most of these artworks in the last 12 months. The timing of the exhibition, has added a new context to her interrogation of the meaning of shelter—of, as the artist says, “the walls we take for granted.” Currently working from her apartment in Brooklyn, the artist observes: “Now we all must shelter, if we can, and are surrounded by the walls that protect us, which we otherwise often take of granted. At the same time, we might not all be sheltering where we would like to, which raises further questions about the notion of home and the desire to belong to a place.” 

To hear more from the artist about her timely and evocative work, please join us for a guided, virtual tour of “All My Lovers” moderated by 21c Chief Curator, Museum Director Alice Gray Stites. Thursday, May 21 at 1pm. Register on Zoom here

 You can also read more about Naomi Safran-Hon’s work in the NY Times article published Friday, May 15th titled “Paintings that Demolish the Myths of What a Home Should Be”.  Follow the link here

About the artist: 

Naomi Safran-Hon’s creative journey works hand in hand with a close examination of the history of painting and its tradition of charged architectural spaces. She uses private spaces and everyday objects in order to address the fragility of human experience and the complex nature of one’s home. Destruction—both intentional, at the hands of the artist, and incidental, as the result of time and desertion—recasts the viewer’s notion of geopolitical conflict, irresolvable nostalgia, and the personal struggle to find one’s place in the world, both physical and psychological. Born in Haifa, Israel, Naomi Safran-Hon earned a B.A. from Brandeis University and an M.F.A in painting from Yale University. This is her fourth solo exhibition at SLAG. Works by the artist are also featured in @21c exhibitions, Refuge and The Future is Female. 

 

Images: 

WS: Room (two doors and window), 2016 

Cement, lace, acrylic and archival inkjet print on canvas 

Courtesy of Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson, 21c Museum Hotels 

 

 

 

 

 

Those Who Got Away, 2020 

Acrylic, cement, lace, fabric and barbed wire 

Image courtesy of the artist. 

 

 

 

 

Night Plumber, 2019 

Acrylic, cement, archival ink jet, PVC pipes and lace on canvas and tulle 

Image courtesy of the artist. 

 

 

 

Taking Me For Granted, 2019 

Acrylic, gouache, cement, sawing pins, archival ink jet on canvas and lace 

Image courtesy of the artist. 

 

 

 

 

 

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