The Phillips Collects: Hedieh Javanshir Ilchi

Through its 2020–2022 Contemporaries Acquisition Fund, The Phillips Collection has recently acquired a work by DC-based artist Hedieh Javanshir Ilchi (b. 1981, Tehran, Iran). Created with acrylic on individual Masonite panels and incased together as a floor-piece, Ilchi’s work (to be completed in spring 2022) fluctuates between abstraction and representation, depth and flatness, evoking unknown landscapes and inner psychological spaces. “While her paintings merge fluid layers of poured paint with imagery derived from old Persian paintings and illuminated manuscripts, Ilchi’s intricately executed tile works—including the Phillips piece—join geometric patterns taken from Islamic architecture with the modernist grid, bridging distinct cultural traditions,” explains Vesela Sretenović, Cross-departmental Director for Contemporary Art Initiatives and Partnerships.

Hedieh Javanshir Ilchi, Work in progress, to be completed spring 2022, Acrylic on individual Masonite panels, 6 x 6 in. each, Overall with base, c. 40 x 58 x 6 in., The Phillips Collection, Contemporaries Acquisition Fund

The artist describes her work as “the product of my multifaceted experience as an Iranian-American immigrant. It provides a space where my two disparate histories come together to reflect on cultural traditions and notions of belonging. By combining conventions of Western abstraction with conventions of Persian art, I explore contradictory painting processes and the ways in which they can be melded into a hybrid visual language.”

Ilchi’s artwork was selected by the Phillips’s Contemporaries Steering Committee (CSC), a young professionals membership group invited to deepen their connection to the Phillips through cultural and social events, including the Art Acquisition. The group has previously acquired works by Nara Park and Ellington Robinson in 2018, and Zoë Charlton in 2019.

Born in Tehran, Iran, in 1981, Hedieh Javanshir Ilchi moved to the US when she was 18 and studied art first at the Corcoran College of Art + Design in 2006 and then at American University, where she received an MFA. Her work embraces the notion of duality, standing between abstraction and representation, geometric patterns and gestural expression, as well as between different histories, cultures, and art traditions. Ilchi’s work has been exhibited in New York, Switzerland, Washington, DC, and Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and is included in several private and public collections. She has been awarded numerous residencies, including the Ucross Foundation, Vermont Studio Center, The Jentel Foundation, and the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts. She is represented by Hemphill Artworks in Washington, DC.

The Phillips Collects: Julia Wachtel

Curatorial Assistant Camille Brown on Julia Wachtel’s Rabbit Hole, which was recently acquired by The Phillips Collection.

Bold color palettes, pop culture references, and unusual juxtapositions characterize much of the work of Julia Wachtel (b. 1956, New York, New York; lives in Connecticut). Utilizing painting, collage, video, and mixed-media installation, Wachtel investigates the ways in which mass-produced media filters through and effects both the individual and culture at large. Wachtel responds to contemporary life through her work and Rabbit Hole, painted in 2020, was likely created in response to the chaos, discord, and uncertainty that characterized that year. In the painting, an unknown cartoon character plunges their head into the ground. Is this an escape or, perhaps, an act of discovery?

Julia Wachtel, Rabbit Hole, 2020, Oil on wood, 40 x 46 in., The Phillips Collection, The Hereward Lester Cooke Memorial Fund, 2021

The Phillips Collects: ROZEAL

Curatorial Assistant Camille Brown on ROZEAL’s gold ‘n Brown of, uh . . . ‘Merica, which was recently acquired by The Phillips Collection.

ROZEAL (aka IONA ROZEAL BROWN) (b. 1966, Washington, DC; lives in New York, NY) traverses cultural identity through her art. In Gold ‘n Browns of, uh . . . ’Merica, ROZEAL blends Black and Native American iconography in her redressing of the Statue of Liberty. ROZEAL replaces the torch—a symbol of enlightenment—with a microphone connected to a boom box which stands in for the tablet of law. Lady Liberty’s crown becomes a Native American headdress, accompanied by large gold earrings. Gold is flecked throughout the canvas, most prominently in the gold shoe lace that runs across her hands to the boom box.

How does the reimagined attire of the Statue of Liberty work to expand visualizations of America? If you could adorn Lady Liberty, what would she wear?

ROZEAL, Gold ‘n Browns of, uh . . . ’Merica, 2020-21, Mixed Media on cardboard, 43 x 23 in., The Phillips Collection, Acquired from TerzoPiano, DC, and Director’s Discretionary Fund