Sheikholeslami Coastline Purple Sky 2023
SOWGAND SHEIKHOLESLAMI, Coastline—Purple Sky, 2023; Casein on paper, Courtesy of the artist

Mallory and Wurtzburger Galleries

Sowgand Sheikholeslami: Progression

Apr 21, 2024 - Jul 7, 2024

Presented by: Joe Orgill Family Fund for Exhibitions

Organized by: Dixon Gallery and Gardens

At the end of December 2023, Memphis artist Sowgand Sheikholeslami retired after a thirty-eight-year career, first as a designer and illustrator for a publishing agency, and then as an art and creative director for a non-profit organization. Although she earned a college degree in both fine art and graphic design from the University of Tehran, and had always painted as a sideline, this exhibition marks a new chapter in her life as a full-time fine artist.

Sheikholeslami’s subjects vary from enigmatic figures that are defined primarily by their environments—interior spaces that the artist composites from bits and pieces of her own home and photographs of places she has never visited—to boldly painted still lifes of just recognizable household objects, to landscapes tending toward greater and greater abstraction. Sheikholeslami acknowledges a series of dynamic, colorful paintings begun in 2009 as a decisive moment in her development away from realism. These works used simplified line drawings and primary colors to create a sense of the vibrant energy of figures in motion. Eventually, the series evolved into her 2013-14 Memphis Urban Art Commission mural Ballers in North Memphis’s Gooch Park. In subsequent studio works, Sheikholeslami accompanied her reductive imagery with much looser painting techniques, emphasizing visual oppositions such as soft/hard, dark/light, and neutral/bright colors, and delighting in the rough grain of extremely heavyweight artists’ papers or linen surfaces that are distinctly slubby (i.e., characterized by thread that is thicker in some places than others, resulting in a textured surface). These expressive practices define Sheikholeslami’s current artistic renewal and unify the aesthetic of the paintings in Progression.

Save the Dates
Meet the Artist reception: Thursday, May 16, 5:30 - 7:30pm
Munch and Learn: Wednesday, May 29, 12:00pm