Through her sculptural installations and photographs, Nairy Baghramian (b. 1971, Iran) draws on histories of modernist sculpture, conceptual art, architecture and interior design to explore shifting relationships between ideas, materials and form. Baghramian’s presentation centres on a series of recent sculptures titled Maintainers, which combine four material elements: raw aluminium casts, coloured wax forms and lacquer-painted braces with cork. The arrangement of these components in relation to one another suggests both independence and co-dependence, their precarious balance hinting at the possibility of continuous rearrangement.
This apparently tentative spatial configuration mirrors the complex material and conceptual dynamics at play in these works. The wax cuboids might seem to suggest a practical use – to polish their aluminium counterparts – but here they are released from serving this function. While the idea of ‘maintenance’ suggests an act of preservation, the repetitive polishing would eventually consume the wax entirely. Baghramian presents her materials without hierarchy: the aluminium remains unpolished; the wax holds its own space.
Coude à Coude, which leans against the gallery wall, has been made specifically for this exhibition. The French title of the work translates literally as ‘elbow to elbow’ but is used figuratively to mean ‘side by side’ or ‘shoulder to shoulder’, reflecting Baghramian’s enduring interest in the relationship between her sculpture and the human form.
Find out more about the artist by listening to our audio guide at bit.ly/ysi-thw3
Courtesy the artist and The Hepworth Wakefield. Photo: Nick Singleton