Yes, Please, and Thank You Projects: New Paintings by Orkideh Torabi
By Patrick Quinn
Through February 5th
For decades, Chinatown was dismissed as a cheesy tourist destination that had a couple of decent dim sum joints. In 1974, it was name-checked in a classic Jack Nicholson movie. In the early 1980’s, local punks had to choose which sweaty dive club to mosh the night away; Madame Wong’s or the Hong Kong Café. By the 1990’s, even the dim sum was suffering. Long-established gift shops and restaurants shuttered their doors as the local Chinese community emigrated East to Monterey Park. Then something interesting happened. Artists began renting the spaces and opening galleries in the former gift shops.
Some, such as China Art Objects, just adapted the title of the previous tenant. The art, like the neighborhood, was edgy and off the radar. Chung King Road has slowly evolved into one of L.A.’s key art districts. When respected art critics Mat Gleason and Paige Wery both decided to open their own galleries, they chose Chinatown. Recently, Richard Heller branched out from his long-established Bergamot Station gallery and opened Yes, Please, and Thank You Projects. It’s an intimate space with two small rooms. The light and the vibe are good and so is the work currently on display.
The paintings are all of Iranian men. Clownish caricatures that lampoon Iran’s patriarchal society. These men are seen as absurd figures in a restrictive society. The work draws attention to the personal, political, and social issues facing women in Iran. It’s harsh, but not cruel. Funny, but not shallow. Though his approach is completely different, one could imagine Ralph Steadman quite enjoying this show. Even the titles to each piece have a subtle subversive quality to them. One Chicago reviewer compared the paintings to “a sort of rogues gallery, though each offender’s crime is to be supplied by the viewer’s imagination.”
The artist paints on a silkscreen with fabric dye and then transfers the image onto canvas using a squeegee, like a monoprint. This technique generates lurid, saturated surfaces, relying on chance and imperfections. She strips the male oppressors of their power by undermining the culture of machismo that pervades Iranian society. When interviewed, Torabi said, “In demasculinizing them, and through repetition and displacement, I allow myself, as a female, to possess their power.”
The patterned backgrounds were influenced by Persian miniature paintings. These small yet highly detailed illustrations have been an integral part of Iranian culture since the 13th century. It’s the color and detail of these backgrounds that give the caricatures weight and context.
Orkideh Torabi was born in Tehran, the capital city of Iran. She received her MA and BA in Tehran before getting her MFA from the School of Art Institute of Chicago in 2016. That same year she had her first American solo show at Western Exhibitions. This show is her second solo show in the States.
‘New Paintings by Orkideh Torabi’ will run till February 5th.
The gallery is open Wednesday – Sunday from 12:00 to 6:00pm.
They are located at 961 Chung King Road, L.A. CA 90012
For further information, call (310) 453-9191 or visit their website at- https://www.yespleaseandthankyouprojects.com/