A Meditation on Vastness: “The sky is higher here” at Transmitter Gallery

by Adam Timur Aslan

“Why is it that all that blue refuses to be contained?”, asks the press release of the group exhibition, The sky is higher here. The show is curated by Leila Seyedzadeh and on display at Transmitter Gallery until March 27th. It features work by Hedwig Brouckaert, Simone Couto, Edi Dai, Saba Farhoudnia, Victoria Martinez, and Ingrid Tremblay.

installation view, The sky is higher here (L–R works by Hedwig Brouckaert “Flesh of Light (I)” (2017) Ingrid Tremblay “Looking further” (2016) and Saba Farhoudnia “Between the two sighs” (2019)

A focal point thematically of the show is the limitless depth of a sky that is too complex for full human understanding. The sky is a source of heat and light, but also darkness. It has scientific qualities that are mysterious. It is a ceiling of blue during the day and an infinite expanse of black at night. It gives allusions to heaven during the day, and the potential for granted wishes via falling stars at night. A focus on the sky is a decision to allow for vastness. To make art about the sky is to consider all these things and decide upon a subject matters that is composed of both the sublime and chaotic. 

“One of the first things that got my attention from day one was that the sky is higher here than what I felt back in Tehran. I still don’t know if there is a scientific reason behind it, or just me seeing the sky this way in North America. Later on, I visited Mexico City and Toronto, and I noticed the sky was high and vast. And when I traveled back to Tehran, I looked carefully and saw the sky was not the same, and I tried to understand why it was lower there,” details Seyedzadeh.

Seyedzadeh brings together artists at Transmitter Gallery that utilize a wide range of materials. Though the curatorial theme can be seen in all the works, the expression of that theme is wildly divergent. “Being in New York among a diverse group of artists from all around the world inspired me to listen to stories that speak about the same content, but which come from such different places – from Iran, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, and the USA. These artists share their ideas through painting, photography, textile, mixed media, and more,” reflects Seyedzadeh.

“A page from my dream book” Victoria Martinez (2022) Cotton, silk, yarn and hibiscus dye, 20 x 18″

The exhibit includes a range of topics that intersect with the theme of the vast blue sky. “Despite the insurmountable distance between the Earth and the sky and its defiance to be understood, these artists search to make it accessible and deeply familiar,” Seyedzadeh explains. “We know that only something as magnificent, shapeless, and borderless as the sky can hold the sum of all our heart’s grief and hopes without ever pouring over.”

The interweaving of seemingly opposing visual objects to create a peaceful setting is observed in the work of Ingrid Tremblay.  The fragility of the immigrant experience and “the infinite blue above our existences” is shown through the work of Simone Couto. The peace and survival bound in the blues of water and sky are explored by in the painted “Between Two Sighs” by Saba Farhoudnia, which was made shortly after losing her father. Hedwig Brouckaert’s mixed media work “Flesh of Light (I)” evokes the liminality of the sky’s dissolving horizontal borders.

While the strength of concept behind the works shine, the range of materials and quality of completed work using this material is equally compelling. Particularly noteworthy is the “A page from my dream book” (2022) (above) by Victoria Martinez which presents a variety of material, color, and shape that the work employs to create a piece that is in dialogue with natural rhythms: a woman’s body, the moon, and other natural shifts in state. Edi Dai’s sumptuous and subtle study of color in staggered layers of natural cotton in “Thoroughfare Vessel” (2022) (below) also commands the viewer’s contemplation.

“Thoroughfare Vessel” Edi Dai (2022) Handwoven canvas made of various undyed colored cotton, 14 x 12″

The sky is higher here is up until March 27th.Transmitter gallery is located at 1329 Willoughby Avenue, 2A, Brooklyn, NY 11237, with gallery hours 1-6 pm on weekends and by appointment.

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