Hamid Yaraghchi is interested in the interplay between compulsion and abjection within his works. The Berlin-based artist describes his works as having a ‘fascination with the terrible’, but elevating such questionable or troubling imagery to a new state in which it is dislodged from its source and re-investigated through his own magical interpretation. “Although they are familiar to us, they appear transformed,” he states. The works seem best described as illustrating so-called ‘in between’ states; between infrastructure and nature, body and soul, reality and subjectivity. Yes, there is a fascination with darkness, but also with light, since colour and brightness are just as important here: when used sparingly, their touch is instrumental in elevating a painting to these near-transcendental states. One can almost imagine Yaraghchi as if inspired by a sort of otherworldly momentum when painting these scenes, or hear the dramatic swell of music as it traces the sweeping of a brush, the detailing of foliage or the suggestion of a figure. There seems to be a sort of Jungian approach too: in which one’s unconscious being, memories, or dreams are granted just as much weight as the empirical, objective, or hierarchical (capital ‘t’) Truth. Our own subjective perception, bias, and history clouds the imagery, and Yaraghchi purposely situates his work in that hypnogogic state, precisely between ‘awake and asleep’, where as viewers, our interpretation of these complex images is where they really begin to deconstruct and show their inherent beauty. So in that sense, they function on a few levels – primarily, how we receive the information he is selecting to present to us, and how we read them as paintings – the brushwork, the decision-making, the additions and subtractions. True, we read all paintings this way, but given that the notion of one’s subjective reality is so crucial to how we read these paintings. In conversation, Yaraghchi states that above all visual art possibilities, he is interested in ‘creating a place to symbolically explode reality.’ The subject matter is rather clinical, often morbid, abject, or intentionally off-putting: Yaragchi bases his work on images that are of historical, religious, or social importance to reference the dark fascination human nature has with such imagery. But it is this very same fascination that once drove Andy Warhol to screen-print a car crash, or Paul McCarthy to make a lifelong career of the grotesque. His immediate peers are more easily name-checked, however, a tradition explored by contemporaries such as Adrian Ghenie or Justin Mortimer, to name a few. But above all, Yaraghchi’s work seems to identify those sparks of enlightenment within the darkness – precisely where these sparse moments of beauty, colour, and transcendence spark.
HAMIDREZA YARAGHCHI (B. 1984, Tehran, Iran) lives and works in Berlin, Germany. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts Dresden in 2020. Solo exhibitions include: ‘Suspicious Reality’, Antonstadt Gallery, Dresden, Germany (2019) and; ‘Banal Memories’, Hübner and Hübner Gallery, Frankfurt, Germany (2016). Group exhibitions include: ‘Existenz-Chapter II’, Academy of Fine Arts Dresden, Germany (2020); ‘Prospektive’, Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, Austria (2019) and; ‘453:32 Visions’, Maryam Fasihi Harandi Gallery, Tehran, Iran (2018).