In art that typically takes the human body as its point of departure, Nairy Baghramian grapples with the fundamental questions of plastic art, although her sculptures and installations propose a pointed antithesis to the traditional conception of the genre. Her formal idiom, choice of materials, and approach have as much in common with post-minimalism as with conceptual art; the artist harnesses the potential of abstraction to address complex sets of questions and frame a suitable response in terms of aesthetic form, forging what Baghramian herself has described as “ambivalent abstraction.” Her works interrogate political and social power structures, weaving together themes in art history and literature as well as references to fashion, architecture, and interior design.
Her sculptural creations for interior as well as exterior settings often consist of multiple elements and disparate materials such as aluminum, glass, pigmented wax, marble, porcelain, styrofoam, epoxy resin, and paint. Organic shapes that are densely packed or imbricated, that buttress, support, or lean on one another subtly yet unmistakably evince their mutual dependence. Props and clamps that hold the various elements together further underscore the objects’ “frailty,” reflecting the artist’s determination to reveal rather than try to conceal supposed flaws or defects. “My sculptures are supposed to help articulate the doubt concerning their viability.” This stance lays her works open to challenge and assault, while the auxiliary constructions also suggest their conceptual temporariness and alterability.