Azhderian is interested in the process of change, of changing one thing into something else. There’s something about the process being very open ended–He’s not trying to “say” anything in particular–but he’s using language nonetheless. For him, it’s less about the communication of a message and more about the latent possibilities in reforming these visual, textual elements. There is both an interest in estrangement from textual conventions, as well as the echoes of familiarity that make the work accessible to the viewer as language.
This body of work focuses on the relation of these themes to the poetic function of language, the shift of a fixed category of text-based material from commercial to aesthetic idiom, and the reorientation of the text’s code away from enterprise and towards the experience of color, texture, value, line, shape, space, and direction. To paraphrase a formalist approach: the work projects the principle of equivalence–the work that a given word does in a sentence–away from the process of comparative selection and towards a process of combination that is relational and based on contiguity.
Azhderian’s idiosyncratic play with these relations of contiguity within the matrix of written language and the grid represents, on some level, a more general antipathy to the reification of language and material form in daily life. A broader premise of the artist’s project; that play, as such, represents an undermining of fixed and familiar cultural forms and hierarchies of value.
Text Grids is a selection from an ongoing series of works that the artist began in 2016. The series is based on discarded commercial signs that the artist collects, cuts up, and reorganizes. Azhderian’s artistic process often involves gathering and collecting these kinds of “found” materials–dryer lint, a used napkin, a fragment of handwriting, painted wood found on the beach. Flux, decay, and regeneration are aspects of this transformative artistic sensibility.
Alan Azhderian is an artist living in Sebastopol, California. His work involves the manipulation and recombination of materials that he finds, usually at the mouth of Sonoma County’s Russian River.
His work has been shown at Crocker Gallery, Quicksilver Mining Company, Calabi Gallery, SRJC Agrella Gallery. He holds a BFA from San Diego State College, an MFA from The University of North Carolina, and an MAED from Sonoma State University. He has taught art classes as an adjunct instructor at the Santa Rosa Junior College for the past 34 years.