On a warm Sunday afternoon, ArtBlitzLA’s Jamie Samuel met up with artist Cyrus Mahboubian to chat about his most recent work and artistic practice. New to the West Hollywood art scene, De Re Gallery debuted their inaugural space with Mahboubian’s new work, Muse. As his first solo exhibition in the United States, Mahboubian situated this collection of expressive photographs within the “ancient” countryside of England. Born and bred in Central London, Cyrus found inspiration in the spiritual atmosphere of the countryside landscape. Over the course of the summer, he spent extensive time (everyday) with his model, determined to find an escape from modern society while capturing the essence of their experience together.
MUSE, Lambda C-Type Photograph on Fuji Crystal Archive Paper, mounted on aluminum.
While majoring in art history at the University of Bristol, Mahboubian used his free time to train himself in both digital and manual photography. During this time, he found that he was drawn to working with film because of the development process and requirement of extensive thought throughout the practice. He appreciated the magic of developing and creating images with vintage cameras, and that passion can be seen in his work today. Leading up to this debut, Mahboubian has participated in international solo and group shows, art fairs and has led workshops throughout England.
I want you to look at the photograph and not be sure if it’s today or a past time. I like the ambiguity – I find it fun to play with.
While walking though his show, Mahboubian provided a behind-the-scenes insight into his mindset while creating this beautiful collection of work. His intentions behind the work emerged as he told stories of how his model and he spent their time in the countryside. His intimate Polaroids pictures, also shown in the exhibition, reveal the level of trust he developed with his model—a relationship forged through time, presence and nature.
But when I am out there it feels magical. You feel spiritual when you are out in the landscape and removed from technology. If you allow yourself to adjust to the silence and stillness, then you do feel that it is a spiritual experience.
UNTITLED (DOUBLE EXPOSURE)
MUSE (DOUBLE EXPOSURE)
DOUBLE EXPOSURE AT SILENT POOL
In his images, the model personified the spirit of Mother Nature though the use of the double exposure. This method had the ability to create a sense of spirituality, romanticism and timelessness. Mahboubian explained that he wanted the viewers to lose themselves in the images while not being able to locate the image in time. It was interesting to learn that, throughout his time spent making the work, Mahboubian truly focused on the experience and the moment rather than the objective of creating a collection of work. At times, he and his model would get so lost during their time together, that they would forget to shoot the images.
We would only take a few pictures a day when we were together. I didn’t want it to become about the photos, I didn’t want it to be like the mission. It was mainly about us losing ourselves in the countryside. And just for a brief period where it felt kind of right, when we both settled in the different mentality, a countryside mentality. That’s when I would pick up my camera. But some days I would completely forget and we would be walking and talking for hours. Or sometimes we would be in silence.
For his future work, he intends to work with a gift he received recently, a large-format camera. He looks to master this new technique to create a collection of portraits, which he says are so detailed with large-format photography that they can be ‘quite eerie’.
If you haven’t had the chance to see Muse, make sure to take the time to lose yourself in his work. You won’t regret it. Show closes October 22nd.
THE PROMISE (diptych)