By Ali Russo
Artlery 160 opened their gallery on April 10 with their first show, “Arrival/Arrival,” featuring work from Ara Azad’s “Mailed Paintings” series. Azad, an accomplished artist from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, presented his work proudly as he greeted guests that came through, talking about the show and his ideas behind it.
The gallery boasts high, bright ceilings, encompassing viewers with pristine, white walls with arrangement of this show is creative and fascinating. Some of the canvases are upright on the floor, while others are hung on the surrounding walls. The title of the show, “Arrival/Arrival,” is printed in gray, repeated lettering for the width of the wall, hangs over the show.
Azad’s work ranges from warm, vivid colors to dark, contrasted portraits; it offers a sense of thoughtlessness in its creation, and the idea of letting instinct in expression take over. Although empowering enough of their own, Azad takes his creativity one step further: he mails his paintings directly to their recipients, all over the world. Here, directly is used in the literal sense, for Azad finishes his portraits by placing the names, address and stamps onto the paintings themselves before sending them off.
Azad has been doing this since 1994. At the opening, he said that he wanted to know the difference between what had value and what did not, especially in a world where more things are becoming increasingly intangible with the rise of technology and the Internet. In turn, he grew curious about what made mail processors handle art versus a package, and where the segregation arose. At this, Azad mentioned that throughout his entire process, only one painting had been damaged.
Toward the end of the reception, Azad drew the show’s opening night viewers by creating two hand-drawn pieces from charcoal, putting the paper to the wall as he chose his materials from a bowl beside him. Within Artlery 160’s space, and with their promise to artists exclusively from the Boston area, the gallery’s first night was exciting and full of entertainment.
(Artlery 160 is located in the Art Deco building at 160 Federal Street, Boston, MA 02100. For more information on Artlery 160, please visit artlery.com/artlery160.)