Paradigm Gallery, nestled right in the hustle and bustle of the Queen Village neighborhood in Philadelphia has always highlighted unique exhibitions. And their latest addition, “Licking the Thorns of a Rose” will be no different.
Opening later this month on Feb. 27, the debut solo exhibition will feature new work from artist Roxana Azar (they/them/she/her). Along with their takeover of the main gallery space, Azar will take her work at Paradigm a step further by also transforming two street-facing windows with installations featuring vinyl and acrylic works.
How the show’s title came to be is a dream — an actual dream, in fact, that came to Azar. A news release states: “‘Licking the Thorns of a Rose’ captures the surreal beauty of their work, and the contradictions and complexities within. Mesmerizing suncatchers emit a spectrum of colorful light across the gallery walls and beyond as ethereal text-based imagery captures the imagination. Azar’s new work marks a continuation of their biophilic practice while expanding into new techniques in printmaking, collage, and photography.”
Azar is known for showcasing unique work that draws from plant life and the natural world — something the artist re-discovered over the course of the pandemic. From time spent in quarantine, Azar now wishes to symbolize both the quiet pain of isolation and the solace of solitude through this showcase. She does this through plant-like and bodily forms which take on different meanings and associations in each piece.
House Plants, for example, like all living things, necessitate care and patience, and that correlates with a ritualized practice that characterizes the artist’s approach to making work.
Azar mainly works a lot with photography, but her latest showcase expands with the use of collage and digital manipulation. From abstract photo collages, Azar creates photo sculptures, built of printed layers of translucent, transparent and iridescent materials.
As the release describes, the synthesis of image, material, and in some works, text, is activated by the interplay between the work and its environment. Each encounter with Azar’s work is an ephemeral experience orchestrated by the specific conditions of the moment, mirroring the transient phenomenology of our dreams and the subconscious.
The winter season, as beautiful as it can be, is also a bit bleak. It’s also the third year of a pandemic. What Azar hopes to bring with her work is an “antidote to the darkness that surrounds us all. Colorful, biomorphic forms illuminate the gallery and reflect onto the street outside, casting out the shadows with prismatic, shimmering light.”
As a local and Philly-based artist, it makes sense for Azar to bring her work to Paradigm Gallery. “Licking the Thorns of a Rose” will be open to the public from Feb. 25 through March 20, with an opening reception on Friday, Feb. 25, from 5:30 to 8 p.m.
On top of Azar’s exhibit with Paradigm, their new work includes holographic vases, furniture and lucite florals with images of collaged greenhouses and gardens. By using vibrant and holographic NASA-engineered materials, Azar creates a dynamic visual experience of both the image and object created where there are color-shifting shadows, transparency and reflections all at once.
For more information on Roxana Azar and Paradigm Gallery (746 S. 4th St.), visit paradigmarts.org.