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Art review: Rosha Yaghmai at Thomas Solomon Gallery

July 8, 2011 |  7:00 am

Yaghmai_Love_Forever A black hole hovers at the center of "Eclipse 2," a dense and recent photo-collage by Rosha Yaghmai that's roughly 3 feet square. The solar flare that surrounds the inky circle is composed from fragments of scissored black-and-white pictures -- bits of landscape, crochet doilies, light bulbs, patterned fabric, etc. -- seemingly selected more for their wide range of visual textures than for specific imagery.

It's the inert mystery of the black circle, however, that keeps drawing your eye, as if its emptiness were the key to articulating distinctions between illumination and shadow, solid and void, on and off. The various collage elements function as an event horizon; they're a point of no return that leads to a place from which one cannot escape.

Yaghmai, whose unusually engaging solo debut at Thomas Solomon Gallery includes another photo-collage and three sculptures, has a knack for exploiting the power of the void. Hers is not the cosmic nothingness of old New York School painting, nor the Zen fulsomeness of Light and Space art. Instead, it's almost a structural principle -- an emptiness essential to making experience of the world visible.

"Love Forever" is a carefully enameled, white fiberglass sheet tossed over a two-person love seat, as if to protect furniture for a house closed up while the occupants are away. At one end, the sheet is pulled up to reveal that, in fact, there is no love seat beneath it -- just an empty space. The object metamorphoses into a ghost.

Loss also permeates Yaghmai's other photo-collage, which locates a small postcard of a 19th century  Orientalist painting of a sensual woman in the center of a large, mottled green field. Look closely and that field is actually an image of carpet padding, the kind that would extend the life of a luxurious rug without ever being seen.

The two remaining sculptures, both affixed like paintings to the wall, are concentric loops of sanded redwood and of translucent resin. The former suggests the growth rings of a tree in the forest primeval, the latter was perhaps cast from the spaces between the redwood rings. These odd, droopy objects keep pushing your thoughts toward missing or far-away elements. Titled "Removal, removal," they create surprising, unexpected gaps in perception right before your eyes.

Thomas Solomon Gallery, 427 Bernard St., Chinatown, (323) 275-1687, through July 30. Closed Sun. through Wed.


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-- Christopher Knight

Photo: Rosha Yaghmai, "Love Forever," 2011, mixed media. Credit: Thomas Solomon Gallery