Nasim Hantehzadeh: Orgasmic

January 14th - February 27th, 2021
  • Orgasmic, installation view

Nina Johnson is proud to present Orgasmic, an exhibition of recent works on paper and canvas, as well as new sculptures, by Nasim Hantehzadeh, opening on January 14th and on view through February 27th, 2021.

  • Dream Mood, 2020, oil pastel, dry pastel, color pencil, and graphite on paper; oil paint and oil Stick on canvas, top (paper): 36 x 39 in.; bottom (canvas): 28 x 34 in. Overall dimensions: 64 x 34 in.

Nasim Hantehzadeh’s process for making artwork emerges from a deeply personal space. She weaves together her own world experience with collective memories to produce works that evoke a conversation with her viewers. Though they begin as a private engagement with her body and materials, each piece actively becomes social once on view. Working on paper, canvas, and in mixed media, Hantehzadeh’s radically intimate works release a deluge of memories that evoke the complexity of embodied experience.

  • Disrespectful Visit, 2020, oil paint and oil stick on canvas, 84 x 72 x 1.5 in.

Inspired by Alice Walker’s 1992 novel Possessing the Secret of Joy, which follows Tashi, a woman from a fictional African nation that practices genital mutilation, Hantehzadeh weaves together personal and collective understandings of sexual and psychological abuse in her works.

  • Watching their orgasm, 2020, oil pastel, dry pastel, color pencil, graphite on acid free 90 lb drawing paper, 76 x 42 in. (Detail view)
  • Orgasmic, installation view

Rendered in oil paint, dry and oil pastel, colored pencil, and graphite, Hantehzadeh’s figures are made up of mostly orifices and sexual organs. Anuses, eyes, mouths lined with teeth, vulvas, and phalluses twist and tangle across her frames, sometimes transforming into flowers or dripping various fluids. Poetic titles such as Soft Bedsheets, We Were Holding Hands and Watching Their Orgasm saturate the works with suggestions of narrative.

  • Felt like soft bed sheets, we were holding hands…, 2020, oil pastel, dry pastel, color pencil, and graphite on acid free 90 lb drawing paper; oil paint, oil stick, and watercolor on canvas, left (paper): 84 x 48 in.; middle (canvas): 84 x 72 x 1.5 in.; right (paper): 84 x 24 in.; overall dimensions: 84 x 144 in.

Often working across both paper and canvas in an individual piece, Hantehzadeh has established a unique aesthetic that feels simultaneously fresh and ancient. Like a more abstract Remedios Varo, or a more figurative Paul Klee, with visual connections to geographically distant but stylistically harmonious references such as Indigenous Australian art, Wilfredo Lam, and Mike Kelley.

  • Watching their orgasm, 2020, oil pastel, dry pastel, color pencil, graphite on acid free 90 lb drawing paper, 76 x 42 in.

Through her use of color, Hantehzadeh elevates what could be merely grotesque into something much more nuanced: the works become as playful as they are terrifying. By refusing to exist in any one category, she emphasizes an in-betweenness in materials, surface, and subject matter, thus challenging notions of taboo, bodily shame, and systemic gender hierarchies.

  • Orgasmic, installation view
Nasim Hantehzadeh

Nasim Hantehzadeh (b. 1988, Stillwater, OK) was raised in Iran and now lives in Los Angeles, CA. Her work has been exhibited at Nina Johnson Gallery, Miami, FL, as well as Shulamit Nazarian, Los Angeles, CA; Ochi Projects, Los Angeles, CA; Paramo Galeria, Guadalajara, Mexico; and New Release, New York, NY; among others. She has participated in residencies at MacDowell, Peterborough, NH, and Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Madison, ME, among others.