Hedieh Javanshir Ilchi

Turning Shadow, 2019

acrylic and watercolor on panel

11¼" x 14"


The largest painting in Hedieh Javanshir Ilchi’s show at Hemphill Fine Arts is a flood of crimson with one detail a viewer could easily miss: a tiny golden gate, rendered in the style and with the precision of a vintage Persian illuminated manuscript. The gateway is one possible entrance to Ilchi’s “I Surrender to You, Ashen Lands and Blue Skies,” a selection of landscapes that are more spiritual than geographic.

Ilchi layers acrylic and watercolor to yield plumes of color, heavy on blue and red, that appear to billow and surge. In addition to including small representational details, the Tehran-born local artist contrasts her fluid hues with map-like compositions, or she divides the pictures into squares reminiscent of decorative tiles. This show includes four watery paintings on Mylar and 10 small pictures whose imagery suggests satellite photos.

Several paintings locate oceanic expanses inside rectangles that are painted partway between the picture’s center and edge. These interior boxes can be seen as photographic frames and as pages from an illustrated book. Such details link Ilchi’s flowing near-abstractions to centuries-old tradition.

Hedieh Javanshir Ilchi: I Surrender to You, Ashen Lands and Blue Skies Through June 29 at Hemphill Fine Arts, 1515 14th St. NW