The Extended Shadow

1994
Lead, Gold leaf
400 x 150 x 150 cm
Edition of 1

The Extended Shadow is a column four metres high and constructed of a series of seven sided polygons (heptagons), stacked upon each other. The heptagons are made of cast lead with their tops and undersides finished in gold. Houshiary’s early ambition was to be a writer and she has written extensively about the The Extended Shadow:

“the ‘heptad’ or group of seven, was called by Greek philosophers ‘Minerva’ because of its similarity to the goddess in fables, i.e. it is virgin and unmarried, neither is born from mother (even number) or father (odd number). One could say that ‘heptad’ proceeds from the ‘monad’ (number one), which is the summit of numbers because it is indivisible by both odd and even numbers. The ‘monad’ symbolised intellect, male/female and God for the Pythagoreans. ‘Heptad’s alliance to the ‘monad’ has made it sacred in many traditions.”

"The squaring of the number seven (symbolised by the heptagon) is realised by repeating the heptagon forty nine times in its vertical dimension. Each turns around its centre as they ascend, until a full circle is completed. This act of rotation reveals the inner core of gold and the movement of seven gold lines spiralling upwards around the column. Now one sees the column of density and weight slowly turning to subtleness and light. This process of change is the true meaning of The Extended Shadow.”

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About The Artist

Houshiary’s sculpture is rooted in the mysticism of Islamic culture, particularly the poetry of Jalaluddin Rumi, a thirteenth–century Sufi mystic. Sufism centres on the quest for self–knowledge, its name meaning ‘the path’ or ‘the way’; this is the essence of Houshiary’s work. Art is a journey of discovery located in the realm of the imagination, which she describes as “the creative force of the universe’. Houshiary believes that an artists role is that of unveiling the invisible rather than producing commodity objects.

Houshiary produces work in a range of different materials including copper, zinc, steel, brass, tin, mud and straw. Frequently, she makes reference to the four elements: earth, fire, wind and water. She also attempts to convey the idea of himma or ‘energy’ in her sculpture. Initially, her work was biomorphic in form, but over time has become more geometric. This serves to emphasise the elemental beauty of materials, but also to strike a universal chord across cultural boundaries.

Shirazeh Houshiary

Born: 1955