Fantasy Will Set You Free

April 14 - June 2, 2018 @ Arlington Arts Center

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As part of my longterm artist residency at Arlington Arts Center (which generously grants me a semi-subsidized studio for 6 years), I have this solo show up:

Arlington Arts Center is pleased to present in the Wyatt Resident Artists Gallery the exhibition of resident artist Negar Ahkami, Fantasy Will Set You Free. Negar Ahkami’s expressive, tactile paintings are inspired by Iranian art, and by global visual traditions that intersect with Iran’s rich art history. Ahkami’s emphasis on rhythm and viscerality is inspired by NYC street art of the 1980s and German expressionism. The imagined dancers in Fantasy Will Set You Free invoke dance floors of the artist’s youth: in New York City night clubs, and at parties organized by Ahkami’s parents for the growing Iranian immigrant community in the 1980s and 1990s.

In placing Iranian art and humanity in a broader, joyful context, and in her piece After Winter Must Come Spring -- in part magic carpet, in part interactive dance floor-- Ahkami is continuing her longtime engagement with Orientalism and stereotype subversion. Above all, Fantasy Will Set You Free is an impassioned escape from depressing news, for the viewer as well as the artist. Ahkami relives the spirit of the dance floor in her studio practice, by getting lost in spontaneous gestures, flamboyant poses, and a riot of rhythmic patterns.