Earth Blossom

May 5 – June 18, 2023

Opening Reception Friday, May 5, 5-9pm

Roundtable Talk: Thursday, June 1, 6pm

Artist Talk: Friday, June 2, 6pm

1708 Gallery is pleased to present Earth Blossom, a two-person exhibition with Ali Kaeini and Eleanor Mahin Thorp.  Kaeini and Thorp's works consider notions about displacement—displacement of land, of objects, of self – through the language of abstraction.

Through site visits to specific landscapes, Eleanor explores how stones are displaced, abstracted, and rapidly altered through land degradation. She is interested in stones’ ability to adapt histories and human contact. Inspired by Persian miniatures, where rocks become amorphous and contain the faces of demons, she utilizes imagery embedded in the rock – figures, faces, symbols, numbers, letters, and words – to reflect on distortion and land depletion.

Ali incorporates depictions of Persian and Islamic structures like thrones, walls, stairs, windows, gates, vase, daggers, and other decorative objects into collaged, hand-painted textiles. By removing these objects from their original context, he speaks to the complex relationship between identity and culture through the analogy of the displaced object.

Through transformation and transcendence, abstraction takes the gravity of displacement into metamorphic realms to consider how histories can be inflicted on inanimate as well as animate objects. 

Ali Kaeini, an Iranian artist, weaves a tapestry of discourses exploring displacement, historical identity, and the Iranian diaspora, drawing inspiration from Iranian history, art, and architecture to create intricate geometric structures surrounded by spiral organic forms, rebelliously departing from traditional techniques. His suspended paintings in space create a sense of barrier and wall, each painting acting as an independent landscape and a wall in front of another, while his figurative calligraphy and silhouette of museum objects serve as metaphors for the displaced body. Kaeini has exhibited his work from the U.S. to the Middle East, Iran, and Europe, and was a finalist in the Bethesda Contemporary Art Awards in 2022. Kaeini received his MFA degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2023 and he attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2019. 

Eleanor Mahin Thorp’s large scale pastel and mixed media works explores the animistic quality of rock through constructing images of stone faces. She explores how depleted landscapes and rocky resources can present multiple levels of image making including figuration, symbols, language, numerology, and abstraction. She is an artist and educator based in Richmond Virginia, and is currently a VMFA fellow, and previous Hopper Prize finalist.