TASHA AMINI: EXCELLENT WOMAN
March 17th, 2008, by Catherine Spencer, Art Review
Tasha Armini's Excellent Women paintings, currently showing at Kate MacGarry, are extremely reticent. Crafted from a rigorously conservative pallet of subdued concrete greys and artichoke greens, they shy away from assuming so much as a title. Armini works from photographs, but the sources are either from Armini's personal archive or from pictures faded out and made vague beyond recognition as they become a painting. This all-pervading obliqueness, while undeniably suggestive as to the status of the 'women' in the show's title, also, however, begins to prompt the question as to whether there is enough here â€“ both technically and conceptually â€“ to anchor the exhibition and prevent it from disappearing behind its own carefully constructed obtuseness.
At their best, Armini's works are delicately rendered and sensitively suggestive. My particular favourite â€“ I think it was the seventh untitled piece, but then, I got slightly muddled as untitled followed untitled â€“ was a small canvas of a woman's head viewed from above, the dark blues and browns of her hair separated by the vulnerable white spine of her parting. A few straggly white and grey hairs, stark against the surrounding blackness, hint at the onset of age. Her face, rendered as a grey swipe of forehead and nose, is, like the painting itself, suggestion rather than statement.
This evasiveness is everywhere: a woman lies with her arms folded behind her head; her face, with its blank grey ovals for eyes and a dark line of shadow running round it, is more mask than flesh. Elsewhere, sculptured segments of female faces emerge from the uniform tones of the canvas. Female forms continually mingle with patterns and decoration: an eye merges with a floral design; black and white lines striate a woman with a cigarette. Two ceramic pieces accompany the paintings, drooping bows that cling to the gallery wall like sad moths.
Arminiâ€™s work throws up some resonant ambiguities: do her women want to be hidden, or are they being repressed? Are they cannily camouflaged or restrictively bound? Despite this, Excellent Women is not entirely convincing. I admit a bias against the deliberately naĂŻve style of painting Armini has cultivated, but I felt she genuinely undermined herself at times with the overplayed simplicity of her technique. This was because at points she demonstrates her capabilities: the eyes of a woman in one portrait, for example, result from a careful layering of nuanced brushwork, and bestow on their owner a magnetic quality. In comparison, the casual daub of a bow detail on a dress seems too easy, and compromises that titular adjective.
March 3, 2008, by Neal Brown, The First Post
It looks like there's a quiet struggle going on between optimism and despair in these sensitive new paintings by Tasha Amini. The artist's subject is femininity, which she often represents via a symbolic haberdashery of ribbon, bow and chintzy fabric forms. The decorative effect of these is in ironic contrast to the threat of bondage that they impose on her female subjects, compromising their independence in subtle, disturbing ways. It's a disassociated, dreaming sort of world that Amini depicts - created using a very restricted range of subdued colours - but also a world of purposeful, dignified female strength.