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Amir Hariri | The Future Was Now

March 7 - April 20, 2024

New York, 2024 – Atamian Hovsepian Curatorial Practice is pleased to announce The Future Was Now, featuring recent works by Amir Hariri.


Taking his cue from the Cubists and reaching as far back as Uccello, Amir Hariri creates futuristic, metallic deconstructed visual tornadoes that reinvent the human form, as well as lived habitats and buildings. End of Empire, from 2022, provides a wry comment on the United States and the recently collapsed USSR. It also refers back to the Persian Empire and the artist’s own origins in Iran. Here, Hariri sends a whole army into battle like a modern-day Guernica, but also alluding in its imagery to Cervantes’s Sancho Panza, aiming at imaginary windmills. In other works from 2023 such as Hypogeum and Domestic Inducer, the viewer first feels confronted by a completely abstracted image—upon closer look, intimations of the human form appear, as well as random accouterments: a shoe here, a hat there. In Choking Saturn and The Triumph of Dirty Water, we face humanity’s forward march into its own oblivion. During this process, no one accepts responsibility for the destruction they sow.


In this current exhibition, Hariri ventures into a post-futurist realm, responding to contemporary crises like the pandemic and climate change. He invites contemplation of these collective traumas, as well as accompanying historical injustices and violent subjugations. Hariri uses the entire canvas to express his vision of the times we live in: “I like to explore the surface at hand in a methodical, structural way,” he says, “as well as the process of breaking down an object before burdening it with our own experiences.” To fans of science fiction, his work may allude to the frightening Cylons of Battlestar Galactica and other images of drones already in use in both civil society and the military. Inspired by the Quattrocento, Miracle of the Host alludes to Arshile Gorky and the epigenetic post-traumatic stress experienced by him and other descendants of genocide survivors. In the case of the Armenians, this includes the added psychological wounds inflicted by the denialist whitewashing of the event by its perpetrators.


Hariri's personal journey echoes the turmoil and conflict that often lead up to such events. The upheaval of revolution and war in his native Iran heightened his awareness of human survival in the face of tragedy. The deep humanism that undergirds Hariri’s seemingly de-humanized images, reminds one that AI and human intelligence have already started to merge, a theme explored in The Intimation. Hariri’s work poses the important question of whether the changes brought by AI will lead to humanity’s salvation or instead bring about its doom.


The artist’s mobile-like structures also recall Alexander Calder and other “artist-engineers”: at once as fragile as filament, yet as powerful as motor-powered vehicles and factory assembly lines. In the eponymous site-responsive installation presented on the gallery’s lower floor, Hariri‘s dilapidated sculptural piece, reminiscent of a collapsing iceberg, is meant to inspire in the viewer a renewed sense of urgency: “I continue to delve into our fatalistic response to catastrophe: does our ability to predict the outcome of a disaster aid or obstruct our response to it?” Hariri’s work unfolds as a form of research into the delicate intersection between human and constructed, a relationship that continues to increase in size and importance.


Amir Hariri was born in Tehran, Iran, and immigrated to the United States to attend college in the early 1990s. After earning a master's degree in engineering from Cornell University, he spent a decade working on design projects in concert halls and museums, as well as glass designs for Apple. He then spent five years studying painting and printmaking at the Art Students League, where he served as an assistant instructor and board member. Hariri has exhibited internationally, and his pieces are part of important public and private collections in the United States, Italy, Spain, Hong Kong, and Japan. In New York, he has exhibited at St. Thomas Aquinas College, Children's Museum of Manhattan, Denise Bibro Fine Art, FIT, the Painting Center, PS 122, and Wave Hill. Hariri’s work has been covered in publications such as Arte Fuse, Pank Magazine, the Woven Tale Press, and Whitehot Magazine. Recent awards include the Museum of Arts and Design and NARS Foundation residencies, Smack Mellon 'Hot Picks', and the NYFA Fellowship.

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