Myth Maker: Laleh Khorramian at SEPTEMBER Gallery

Installation view. Photo courtesy of Alon Koppol

Finally! What a joy to meander through a show that is not just a formulaic scaffolding rendered to execute a marketing plan rather than make art. Walking into the building that houses September Gallery’s new space in Kinderhook, NY, The first thing you see is not a wall or architectural ornamentation but a monumental scroll that immediately hints you might be here for a while. This colossal collage introduces Myth Maker, the second exhibition at September Gallery by Laleh Khorramian.

She is not one of us, she is home, 2023. Acrylic, oil paint, ink, blood, canvas, cotton, velvet, linen, Interfacing, polyester thread, pine dowels, hardware. 77” x 44.5”. Photo courtesy of Alon Koppol

Now you have a choice—take the stairs or the elevator? I mention this because the gallery is divided into three distinct spaces exhibiting three discrete bodies of work created by Khorramian. What unifies these works is the overarching experience of a first-generation Iranian woman and a deeply rooted and intelligent desire to use any means necessary, both traditional and experimental, to create a body of work inspired by her experience.

If you choose the elevator, almost like stepping through a portal, you will be whisked into the center gallery, home to a selection of pieces created for Banners, a larger body of work. Writing an entire catalog on these pieces would be easy, but I will restrain myself and choose She is not one of us; she is home. This work is 77 inches tall and 44.5 inches wide and hangs from pine dowels. It is simultaneously a tapestry, a painting, a collage, a scroll, and above all else, a homage to the journey of those, particularly women, who embody the experience of several cultures both geographically and emotionally.

Composed like an icon, a central image centered from top to bottom by a spine-like totem on the textile. It feels like a robotic goddess, a fusion of an ancient deity and a hint of a future artificial entity. The spine structure is constructed from tiny geometric shapes that conjure imaginary rhythms or maybe computer code. Beneath this lies what might bebe a simple camisole or the top half of a woman’s body. Pieces of damask and coiled gray snake-like shapes simulate imaginary organs. The bottom is held up by an abstract sensation of a temple or tomb. Light blue lines hinting at a woman’s anatomy are delicately drawn on the surface, uniting the entire image.

Skip, Skip, 2023, ink, conte, gouache, polypropylene, 35.75” x 19.25”. Photo courtesy of Alon Koppol

If you did not have the patience to wait for the elevator and took the stairs, you enter SEPTEMBER’S south gallery. Here, you find a series of collages lining the walls. Each collage is a unique gem and demonstrates Khorramaian’s astute faith in chance combined with a keen sense of editing. When I say gem, I am not referring to a shiny bauble but a work that is multi-faceted with layers of content and experimentation. Skip, Skip is a vertical collage that harkens back to Khorramanian’s accomplished printmaking abilities. Its simple abstract markmaking and monoprint residue, combined with an eerie apparition of a face, creates the illusion of a surreal hallucination.

Myth Maker, Installation View. Trapezoidal windows, 2022. Photo: Courtesy of Alon Koppol

Moving to the north gallery, you enter a space that evokes the solemnity of a stained glass celestial chapel. Several elongated trapezoidal light boxes provide the only illumination in the room. Composed of monoprints, geometric cut shapes, and color gels, each lightbox can be described as an exquisite art piece conjured from a methodology of traditional skills combined with the desire to delve into contemporary mediums.

Myth Maker is the type of exhibition that demonstrates the kind of freedom that artists should own but has been sucked away by an ever-exploding art market. Khorramian uses every material available, whether traditional or contemporary, and she does it by allowing the materials to take on a new identity, whether textiles such as silk and velvet or mediums such as automotive spray paint or blood. The genesis of her work is often her experience as a first-generation Iranian woman growing up in Florida. Laleh Khorramian is a pioneer. She relentlessly and intelligently creates work that honors her experience, which enriches us all.

Myth Maker is on view till October 15 at September Gallery, 4 Hudson St. Kinderhook, NY.

About the Writer: Sara Farrell Okamura, is an artist, writer and educator. She has recently exhibited paintings in Lottery In June, Corn, Be Heavy Soon a homage to writer, Shirley Jackson at Left Bank Gallery, Bennington VT, Turn Park, MASS MOMA, West Stockbridge MA,and is participating artist in Opalka Gallery, Sage Colleges, Albany Library, Exquisite Corpse, Albany, NY. In addition to Art Spiel she has written articles for Hyperallergic and Boston Art Review.