Veiled Threats 1999-current
a series inspired by the poems of Agha Shahid Ali

Rooms of wall size paintings in ink on pleated illusion (tulle curtains), 14 x 22 x 28 each

Agha Shahid Ali and Izhar Patkin started their collaboration on “Veiled Threats” in 1999.
In this project, each of Patkin’s veil rooms corresponds to one of Shahid’s poems.
Violins 2006
This English version by Agha Shahid Ali (with Ahmad Dallal), was crafted from the poem of the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish:

s follow me everywhere in vengeance
Violins seek me out to kill me wherever they find me
Violins weep for Arabs leaving Andalusia
Violins weep with gypsies going to Andalusia
Special thanks to Jacob Lee for his help and dedication in engineering the unique printing technology for this project.
Evening 2008
after "Evening," a poem by Faiz Ahmed Faiz, translated from Urdu to English by
Agha Shahid Ali

Some terrible magician, hidden behind curtains,
Has hypnotized Time
So this evening is a net
In which the twilight is caught.
Now darkness will never come—
And there will never be morning.
Izhar Patkin and David Ross: A Conversation (video)

Reception for
March 2008, New York City
The Veil Suite 2007
Shahid wrote “The Veiled Suite” specifically for his collaboration with Izhar.
This was Shahid's last poem.   A requiem.

“No mortal has or will ever lift my veil,”
he says. Strokes my arm. What poison is his eyes?
Make me now your veil, then see if you can veil
Yourself from me.

Jacki Lyden Talks with
Agha Shahid Ali
for NPR, All Things Considered
at Izhar Patkin's Studio,
July 2001, New York City
agha shahid ali
Agha Shahid Ali (आगा शाहीद अली) (1949 - 2001) was an English poet of Kashmiri ancestry and upbringing. His poetry collections include The Half-Inch Himalayas, A Nostalgist's Map of America, The Country Without a Post Office, Rooms Are Never Finished (finalist for the National Book Award, 2001), Call Me Ishmael Tonight, a collection of English ghazals. Ali was also a translator of Faiz Ahmed Faiz (The Rebel's Silhouette; Selected Poems) and editor (Ravishing DisUnities: Real Ghazals in English). He was widely credited for helping to popularize the ghazal form in America.

Recital at the CCJ, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Sept 2010

Caetano Veloso, vocals
Jaques Morelenbaum, Cello

Camera: Monique Gardenberg, Fernando Grostein Andrade

You Tell Us What to Do 2010
after "You Tell Us What to Do," a poem by Faiz Ahmed Faiz,
translated from Urdu to English by Agha Shahid Ali

When we launched life
on the river of grief,
how vital were our arms, how ruby our blood.
With a few strokes, it seemed,
we would cross all pain,
we would soon disembark.
That didn't happen.

The Dead Are Here 2009
This Poem is the 13th chapter from Shahid's elegy "From Another Desert."
The Arabic love story of Qais and Laila is used
. Qais is called Majnoon (literally "possessed" or "mad") because he sacrificed everything for Love.

Tonight the air is many envelopes
again. Tell her to open them at once

and find hurried notes about my longing
for wings. Tell her to speak, when that hour comes,

simply of the sky. Friend, speak of the sky
when that hour comes., Spe
ak, simply, of the air.

Presidential Wax 1985-86
perforated photo collages
89” x 72” each

Collection; MOCA, Los Angeles.

Perforated large scale paper collages, of wax statuettes photographed as George Washington in the Gilbert Stuart portrait. (catalog)

"Madonna and Child" 1998-current
a series of oil paintings on screen
and porcelain sculpture

Collection; Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres
This series started in 1998 with portraits of seated women holding empty blankets. The paintings are done in oil on aluminum wire mesh 68" x 44" each.
A porcelain sculpture of this narrative is now being produced at the legendary Sevres porcelain factory in Paris
madonna izhar patkin

Miscellaneous Texts

Some Thoughts on Izhar Patkin
By DAVID ROSS ARTIS Catalogue, March 2008

It may be the nature of our time that those who reveal what we would rather not acknowledge are ignored or worse, expelled. This may seem clearly true in the world of politics and social relations, yet is equally true in art, though the exclusion may be less obvious. The art world, after all, is composed of unarmed camps that manage contest by making invisible all that they feel the need to deny.
Izhar Patkin is an artist who has faced up to the test of critical expulsion, and has survived his time in the wilderness quite well, thank you. Full Story and other miscellaneous texts

don quijote izhar patkin
Don Quijote Segunda Parte 1987
anodized cast aluminum, life size
92 x 75 x 40” (edition 5)

Public Collections: Guggenheim Museum, NY Ringling Museum, Florida
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California

Don Quixote 'reading' The Adventures of Don Quixote Part II, while looking in a mirror. (catalog)
Miguel de Cervantes’ volume one of Don Quixote was published in 1605. After its success, a man by the name of Alonzo Fernández de Avellaneda decided to cash in on Cervantes' success and write a Volume Two. In Cervantes’ 1615 part II, Sancho tells Don Quixote: “ . . . he told me that your worship’s story is already in print under the title of The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote de la Mancha. He says that I’m mentioned too under my own name of Sancho Panza, and so is the lady Dulcinea del Toboso, and so are other matters which happened to us in private. It made me cross myself in wonder, to think how the story-writer could have learnt all that.”

The Black Paintings 1985-1986
a room of wall size paintings in ink and enamel on pleated neoprene, 14’ x 22’ x 28’

Museum of Modern Art, NY.

A grand scale room of painted black rubber curtains based on Jean Genet’s play: The Blacks: A clown show. (catalog)


the characters

Great Curtains I Have Known

I had the opportunity to watch Izhar Patkin paint his Black Paintings, in a big, filthy, unheated room on Broome Street. I used to visit this studio almost daily while the work was in process. I rarely stayed very long, but the painting changed each day, and I didn’t want to miss a thing. And the painting wasn’t the only thing that changed. Graham Greene once said that the difference between writing a short story and writing a novel is that the person who finished a novel is not the same person who started it. Full Story

Interview with Izhar Patkin
By HERBERT MUSCHAMP Spring 1986, New York City

HM: One of the surprise entertainments of The Black Paintings you showed last spring (at the Limbo Gallery, New York City) was to watch the reaction of the viewer. It was though you took them by the hand over the threshold into the idea of narrative in contemporary art - it was done on such a big scale and with such an explicit literary connection to Genet’s play that they couldn’t miss it - but once they were inside there seemed to be a language problem. it was like watching a group of travelers entering a foreign country and trying to order a meal. There was food all over the place but no Berlitz handbook . . . Full Story

Banner Sculpture Proposal 1987

The Perfect Existence in the Rose Garden 1988
oil on screen,
40" x 64" each painting

Honolulu Contemporary
Museum, Hawai

Paintings of a golden Gothic Hortus Conclusus, in which the Virgin & child inhabitants were replaced by other metaphors. (catalog)


Where Each is Both 1994

blown glass sculpture
168” x 84” x 84”

Guggenheim Museum , NY.

14 ft. blown glass sculpture of a dancing God figure combining the legends of Shiva Nataraja, Carmen Miranda and Josephine baker.

where each is both izhar patkin

The Meta Bride 1983
Enamel paint on pleated illusion (tulle), 9’ x 8’
collection: Whitney museum of American Art, New York

A black bride painted on white tulle curtain was the centerpiece of this exhibition, which closed on Easter Sunday with a live performance in the gallery.

meta bride izhar patkin

Judenporzellan 1998-02
enamel on chrome coat paper, sizes variable
Collections; Jewish museums, NYC and Berlin -
Open Museum, Tefen, Israel

Large-scale collages in a technique that involves cutting, folding and weaving stenciled paper. “Judenporzellan” is based on the story of an 18th century law, which forced Berlin’s Jewry, the Mendelssohn family among them, to buy inferior and overpriced porcelain from the king’s failing factory. (catalog)
judenporzellan izhar patkin