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"CMYK: Colour Separation," Tatiana Ferahian, solo exhibition at Rouan Gallery, Limassol, Cyprus

From: Marina Kassianidou
Date: 01 Apr 2010
Time: 09:40:11 -0600


Tatiana Ferahian "CMYK: Colour Separation" March 19 – April 3, 2010 Rouan Gallery (http://www.rouanart.com Ferahian’s exhibition at Rouan Gallery comprises of paintings, drawings and installations that touch upon politics, multiculturalism, racism and alienation. Ferahian deals with complex and often controversial issues yet she does it in an intelligent and playful way that manages to sustain the complexity of her subject matter. Ferahian uses photographs she takes in the streets of Cyprus to make composite paintings and drawings. Some of her images are fragmented – scenes that presumably come from different photographs coexist in the same work. Images showing Greek Orthodox churches are juxtaposed with images showing Muslim mosques, which are then juxtaposed with images of Armenian churches. Similarly, images of people walking in the streets of different cities in Cyprus are painted next to each other. This simple juxtaposition, and the fragmentation that results due to the use of different images, play with differences and similarities between people and cultures. In the piece “Colour Separation,” the theme of unity and separation is presented somewhat differently. Instead of bringing different scenes together, the artist here splits up the images and their colours. She selects specific episodes/landscapes characteristic of Cypriot life – national parades, religious ceremonies, street life, etc. She paints four similar images representing each episode/landscape. Each image is painted in a different colour – cyan, magenta, yellow, black. She follows a process opposite to that of professional offset printing – instead of combining colours together to form a unified whole, she splits the colours apart leading to a series of images related by subject matter yet separated by colour. There is an interesting interplay of differences and similarities between these pieces as the viewer is invited to consider the things that bring them together and the things that set them apart. Moreover, the reference to printing techniques brings up the issue of presentation and perception. How are cultural and socio-political issues presented? How does each of us perceive these issues? What will happen if we try to bring together the different presentations/interpretations/perceptions? Will a unified image be created? If we mentally juxtapose the images on top of each other, the colours may combine together to create a fully coloured image but the images themselves will not match because they are not exactly the same. The work remains somewhere between match and mismatch, unity and fragmentation. In many works, Ferahian adopts a more playful approach. In “Turkish Coffee,” the coffee residue at the bottom of cups is “transformed” into small delicate drawings of Cypriot landscapes. The custom of “reading” coffee residue to predict the future is here playfully brought to life – the residue does indeed resemble something but whether these scenes show the future or the past remains unanswered. In “Draginja’s Garden,” used shotgun cartridges are transformed into flowers. Installed on the floor of the gallery, these “flowers” seduce the viewer, inviting him/her to approach. On approaching, however, he/she is suddenly confronted with the realization of what the “flowers” actually are. Moreover, many pieces in the exhibition incorporate references to games. For example, one piece is presented in the form of a puzzle. Another piece is presented in the form of a labyrinthine track with a small ball placed in one of the routes, reminiscent of flipper games. In a sense, we are invited to ask, what do politics and games have in common? Overall, Ferahian’s work achieves a sort of tentative placement between being playful and being serious, between unity and fragmentation, differences and similarities. The juxtaposition of images and subject matters, along with a strategic use of humour, enable the viewer to engage with questions of cultural memory, human subjectivity, and potentially misplaced hopes and fears.