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September 8–October 14, 2023

Aryana Minai’s works emerge as perfect fragments of an eternal timeline. Resembling shards of architecture, each panel is made in one continuous sitting through a process that relies on liquefaction, pressure, gravity, and air. A floor-based operation repeated in layers, the paper material is soaked, pulverized, strained, dyed, and leveled into place. As well as her finger impressions, for this new body of work the artist made use of a discarded textile woodblock sent to her by a friend in Tehran. This weighted, patterned form is then pressed across the surface to produce a relief. There, the material dries and hardens into its new state. Consciously laborious, the work then becomes a resting zone.


Soon after her birth in Los Angeles to Iranian parents, Aryana’s family moved back to Tehran to helm the family business following her grandfather’s passing. (She would eventually return to the US at sixteen.) If one’s memories of place are by definition impressionistic, Aryana’s process offers an ideal apparatus for recalling her earliest experiences of home apostrophized by the intricate geometry of Persian Islamic architecture. In this way, the work becomes a process of preservation through its creation, and memory itself transforms into an active labor.


Here we come into contact with histories of bodies moving through past and present—including the maker’s own. In the same way that architecture or a textile acts as a kind of skin, through their shape-shifting these works transform into portals of touch. Created from the ground up, these panels carry the nonlinear direction of time as well as the vertical inclination of their material cumulation. Encased at the middle of each is the delicate skeleton of a leaf, resembling a central belly or seed. The pulped paper that surrounds it, too, is reminiscent of soil as if here planted.


Beneath these works, the artist has installed a vast paper-brick network that leads a continuous path from you to one to the other. From her mother Aryana learned that one’s health starts from the feet up. We come into contact with this motive of care through the shared activation of each portal from below. From this collective perspective the exhibition’s title speaks of a garden and of ruins, taking up the metaphors of planting and growing that have repeatedly emerged in the women-led Iranian revolution of the past year (a powerful slogan: You may have burned our gardens but we kept the seeds!). Internal to the work itself, with the weight of the dye being lighter than the water, it too rises up to the surface, pushing into its patterned crevices.


As the material dries, this shifting pigment produces a visual illusion of shadow and light in which the work seems to glow from within. Aryana’s intricate, heavy, tender, brilliant thinking around these movements from underground to here and now; the planting of seeds in time; and a locating of home and history in the body feel especially emotional as this exhibition marks the last in the gallery’s below-ground project space at 55 Delancey Street. With Aryana, this ending marks a moment of renewal as well as rest. For its properties of holding memory, she speaks of paper as a “soul mate material.” Like an altar, each fragment in front of you is at the same time a whole object—the only object. This is its perfection.

—Laura Brown


Aryana Minai (b. 1994 in Los Angeles, CA) graduated an MFA from Yale School of Art in 2020 and BFA from Art Center College of Design in 2016. Her work has been exhibited at venues including the Craft Contemporary, OCHI, Steve Turner, and Brand Library & Art Center in California; and Europa, Swivel Gallery, Galerie Perrotin, and Ed. Varie in New York. Roses in a Garden of Ruins marks the artist’s first solo exhibition in New York. Minai lives and works in Los Angeles.



Photography: Jason Mandella

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