Sandow Birk + Elyse Pignolet + Simeen Farhat
at Kirk Hopper Fine Art  through September 24
by Todd Camplin

Kirk Hopper Fine Art has an intelligent show of three artists;  Sandow Birk, Elyse Pignolet
together with Simeen Farhat, which makes a very challenging show to commemorate
the events on September 11th. This show reminds us that because a few individuals
can commit incredibly ugly acts of violence, it should not overshadow the beauty
that comes from the cultures of the Middle East.
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Sandow Birk doesn’t shy away from controversy. Birk tackles social issues of inner
city violence, graffiti, political issues, travel, war, and prisons. The work “AK-47” depicts
a machine gun surrounded by Middle Eastern inspired designs. From my studies and
my trip to Turkey, I can see the Ottoman influences in this shape. The Russian made
AK-47 is also is a common weapon found in the region and is associated with
revolutionaries and terrorists alike. There is an incredible amount of tension in this
work.  It is like the Soviet invasion era (rugs-of-war) of Afghanistan in which you
would often find patterns of guns and mines among the ornate patterns. This
made the rugs tragically beautiful. Of course, Birk is using juxtaposition to
illustrate the terrible associations people make about these beautiful cultures.
Elyse Pignolet works closely with Sandow Birk on many projects. This is a marriage
in the real sense and in a working relationship as artists. Pignolet’s work relates
to street and graffiti art. I was browsing her website and I came across these
wonderful sculptures of graffiti art made into objects. The work relates to Simeen
Farhat’s work in shape and form. I get a sense these two artists are meant to
show together in larger exhibitions.

previous articles
Todd Camplin
My Joy - Simeen Farhat  - Enamel on urethane --2011  
Sandow Birk, in collaboration with Elyse Pignolet
Ink and gouache on paper - 30" x 22" - 2009

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I am in love with Simeen Farhat’s art. She has taken naskhi (Arabic script) from
reorganization of words, she deconstructs these writings from Rumi, Saadi,
Ghalib, and Faiz Ahmed Faiz into amazingly beautiful shapes that cast some
of most interesting shadows on the wall. Farhat describes her goal as translating
these writers’, “poetic dynamism into visual energy.” These sculptures make me
run my eyes over each curve, twist, and kink to find myself lost in the inherently
complex shapes of words.

You can just breathe in the heaviness of content in relation to the tragic events
this show honors. Kirk Hopper Fine Art fearlessly curates a show that looks at the
event’s consequences from a refreshingly sensitive angle. My hope is that the
associations illustrated in Sandow Birk’s work won’t become set in stone. This
Saturday the 24th will be last time you can see this show along with Michael
Arcier’si solo photography show and installation of Joseph Daun’s work.  
Kirk Hopper Fine Art
3008 Commerce Street
Dallas, Texas 75226