In the dog days of summer, there’s not so much to see in London’s art scene. But for those of us who prefer chilly air conditioned white cubes to lying in the sun, there are some real treats to be had. Among them is in an upstairs gallery in one of the chilliest cubes of all, the formidably air conditioned Parasol Unit in Islington.
This show is featuring a group of Iranian artists. The work that stood out for me is Navid Nuur’s Broken Blue Square. Which, as you can see from the picture below, is actually rectangular. It was originally a square, though: Nuur snipped off the ends of the 30 parallel argon tubes that formed the original work, and stuffed the shards inside what remained.
Viewers who look closely can see these tiny shards settled, like fallen ash or snow, at the bottom of the glowing tubes. Imperfections and frazzles are contained in something a lot more whole, even perfect. In this broken square, despite a similar appearance, there are few of the side effects of neon: the buzzing, the flickering, the trailing wires.
This is because Nuur used argon, a gas that glows blue when charged with electricity. It’s quieter, and eerier, than Neon. It’s a nice update of a concept inaugurated by Dan Flavin and copied endlessly over the past four decades or so. And, in a show defined by nationality, seemed pretty transcendent.
Nine Iranian Artists in London: THE SPARK IS YOU is at Parasol Unit (London). May 22 - September 08 2019.