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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
by
Todd Camplin
My Joy - Simeen Farhat  - Enamel on urethane --2011  
"AK-47"
Sandow Birk, in collaboration with Elyse Pignolet
Ink and gouache on paper - 30" x 22" - 2009
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