Denise Yaghmourian

Denise Yaghmourian’s intriguing sculptural forms are rooted in a hybrid of past art movements and styles, yet they resonate with current artistic concerns of today.  Her wall-mounted box forms embellished in machine-made materials in primary colors bring to mind the austerity and seriality of Donald Judd’s Minimalist stacks.  But covering Yaghmourian’s rigid cubes are strips of finely webbed fabric, which places the work in a long continuum first begun in the late 1950s by Claes Oldenberg, whose seminal soft sculptures established him as a forerunner to the Post-Minimalist movement.  The simplicity of Yaghmourian’s surface veneers reveal a material-based sensibility—one akin to feminist principles by the virtue of their material identification as hook-and-eye tape primarily used in the construction of bras and corsets …

…Yaghmourian, who received a Bachelor of Arts degree in painting at Arizona State University in 1991, developed her signature forms in 2003 when she was given the opportunity to create a new body of work for a solo exhibition at the Chandler Center for the Arts.ii  Challenged with the possibilities of experimentation, she discovered a plethora of interesting materials by scavenging through fabric stores, thrift shops, and toy stores. Her first piece using the repetitive found object was a cube covered in gold zipper pulls—the regimented hinged form appearing like scales on a mechanical fish.  Later, for an “all white” exhibition in 2003, she created an untitled sculptural form that gives a nod to the Fibanocci formulas of Sol LeWitt’s white constructions while paying homage to Marcel Duchamp’s readymades.  Yaghmourian’s repeated images are the staccato rhythm of hundreds of white plastic disposable shaving razors glued upright like so many marching soldiers.  Not only is the artist aware of the precedents upon which she builds her ideas, but she is clearly aware of the metaphoric content of her work.  To the artist, these “soldier” razors all stand together, trying to fall into line with what they are supposed to be doing, boldly showing off their sharp appearance.  The idea came to her when she traveled to Los Angeles and passed the hillside of sleek white windmills that dot the landscape west of Palm Springs.  To Yaghmourian, the razors in her work not only embrace the play of light and shadow on the repeating forms, but also emulate the cultural attitude of the West Coast art scene and its identification as “cutting edge.”…

… Through her work, Yaghmourian embraces the obvious and accepts the ubiquitous manufactured nature of contemporary society.  She finds beauty in the mundane, turning the products of our mass production/mass consumption into formal studies of shape and pattern.  Her art is not hermetic; it is a poetic reverie fully conscious of its historic trajectory from formal concerns and critical theory.  Yaghmourian’s sophisticated, elegant forms anchored in their materiality belie an emotional content that pulses with a humanistic optimism that goes beyond cerebral exercise to a highly personal expression of her place in the world.

Julie Sasse,
Chief Curator and Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art
Tucson Museum of Art


Artist's Artworks