Lawrie Shabibi at The Armory Show, 2018

Focus Section
Booth F15, Pier 92, New York
8 – 11 March, 2018

Lawrie Shabibi is delighted to announce our second participation in The Armory Show, the leading art fair in New York.  We will be showing a new body of work by Shahpour Pouyan as part of the Focus section, curated by Gabriel Ritter, Curator and Head of Contemporary Art at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Ritter’s Focus section explores notions of the digital body/ corpse/corpus, highlighting artists that broadly address questions such as how the digital can re-imagine the human body, or a body of work, and how technology can reanimate the past, or a past body of work.

Shahpour Pouyan’s monumental sculpture The Machine is shown together with related new works from his Miniatures series. Pouyan’s Miniatures employ means both digital and manual to eradicate the figures and anachronistic details from illustrated historical manuscripts, whilst The Machine makes physical something lacking from these Miniatures. The project, in progress for the last five years, is Pouyan’s response to the breakdown of the Arab Spring. At the time much talk, including serious journalism, related to how the protests and demonstrations that swept across the region were the Middle East’s “Enlightenment” or “French Revolution” – that hundreds of years later history and the course of human destiny was catching up.

The Machine, an enormous wood sculpture painted in the deepest black, over 4m long by 2m high, combines aspects of the guillotine (the revolutionary killing machine from the industrial age) and the trebuchet (a masterpiece of engineering from the medieval period).  One component of this sculpture, the trebuchet, was a product of the Middle East – developed by Persian prisoners of the Mongol Great Khan and used in their campaigns in Europe. Its other component, the guillotine, represents the more recent import of Western industrialization.  Simplified, refined, and devoid of details such as ropes and metal parts, The Machine is stripped of any function.

The Machine shows the repetition of history and human errors in different periods, a structure of impressive proportions but devoid of any practical purpose – a failed construct.  Pouyan states, “The Machine is the missing part from the world of my Miniatures. It is a piece of machinery from the East that was lost in history. We do not know that much about its usage, who used it and against whom”.

In his Miniatures, Pouyan presents illustrations that have been reworked from celebrated Persian manuscripts, editing out any of the details that are mythological, anachronistic or have since vanished. In practice this means editing out the figures, using both digital and manual means.  In concurrence with The Machine, Pouyan has selected historical miniatures with subjects that include torture, executions and siege engines. Certain aspects – towers made of skulls, trebuchets, pits of sharpened spears – all take on a very different appearance and meaning without their human protagonists – in many ways mimicking the failure of The Machine as a functional object.

Other works from Pouyan’s Miniatures series are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum, New York, the British Museum, London and the Grey Art Gallery, New York.


About Shahpour Pouyan

Born in Isfahan, Iran, in 1979 Pouyan has an MFA in Integrated Practices and New Forms at Pratt Institute, New York, and an MFA in Painting from the Tehran University of Art.

Pouyan has had numerous solo gallery shows including: My Place is the Placeless, Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai, 2017; We Owe This Considerable Land to the Horizon Line, Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris, 2017; History Travels at Different Speeds, Copperfield, London, 2015; PTSD, Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai, 2014; Full Metal Jacket, Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai, 2011; The Hooves, Sixty Six Art Gallery, Tehran, 2010; Bana Bar In, Nar Gallery, Tehran, 2009; XVA Gallery Bastakia, Dubai, 2009 and Towers, Ave Gallery, Tehran, 2008.

Pouyan’s select institutional and museum exhibitions include the British Museum, London; the Aga Khan Museum, Toronto; the Museum of Fine Art, Houston; Asia Culture Centre, Gwangju, South Korea; Yinchuan Museum of Contemporary Art, China; Pera Museum, Istanbul; Grey Art Gallery, New York; and The Elgiz Museum, Istanbul. He has participated in the 7th Beijing Biennale National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China, 2017; Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Kochi Island, India, 2014 and Mykonos Biennale, 2013.

His work is part of many prominent private and public collections including the Collection of Robert Littman and Sully Bonnelly, New York, USA; The Abby Weed Grey Collection of Modern Asian and Middle Eastern Art, New York; The British Museum, London; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Mohammed Afkhami Collection, Dubai; Huma Kabakci Collection, Istanbul; SYZYGY, New York; The Farjam collection, Dubai; Zoroastrian Cultural Institute, Paris and the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, Tehran.

In 2016, Pouyan was shortlisted for the Jameel Prize 4 by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK and has been awarded the Civitella Ranieri Fellowship for Visual Arts in Umbria, Italy. He has participated in several international residencies including International Cite Des Arts, Paris, the Pegasus Art Foundation, Hyderabad, India, and the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, New York in March 2014.



Left: Shahpour Pouyan
Afer, Rustam slays his son, Suhrab, 2018
Mixed Media on Hahnemühle cotton paper
32.4 x 20.8 cm
12 3/4 x 8 1/4 in
Courtesy Lawrie Shabibi and the artist
Photography by Musthafa Aboobacker


Shahpour Pouyan
After, the execution of Mazdak before Nushirwan, the arch-heretic and communist has been hoisted on a gallows by his feet and is being shot full of arrows, 2018
Mixed Media on Hahnemühle cotton paper
33.19 x 19.96 cm
13 1/8 x 7 7/8 in
Courtesy Lawrie Shabibi and the artist

Photography by Musthafa Aboobacker