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wats:ON? 2017: TRANSITIONAL SPACES Opening Reception - Miller Gallery

  • CMU Miller Gallery, Floor 3 (map)



Exhibition of the work of Hadi Tabatabai

Sat 23 Sep - Sun 12 Nov   Miller Gallery

Fri 22 Sep
6:00-8:00pm   Reception, Floor 3 Miller Gallery


Transitional Spaces

Thu 02 Nov
5:00pm   Exhibition Opening and Festival Reception, College of Fine Arts Great Hall
6:00pm   Artist Talk, College of Fine Arts Kresge Theatre

TRANSITIONAL SPACES Through an elegant combination of drawing, painting and sculpture, Hadi Tabatabai's work describes a place that is as much an idea as a physical location. These compositions embody liminality: that is, they create a constant experience of sensations that exist at the limen, or edge, of perception. To bring about this state, Tabatabai has removed all possible distractions. Narrative and figuration, even figure and ground, have been excised from these delicate combinations of squares, rectangles, and floating lines.

Tabatabai uses the physical nature of the materials to create subtle shifts within the surface plane. The lines are delineated by slightly raised or lowered edges of materials to create works that straddle the realm of the pictorial and the sculptural. Through the use of light and shadow, depth of field, and other optical obfuscations, the positive and negative space in the paintings becomes indeterminate. His work evokes the relationship between what is imagined on the surface and what is actually rendered - in a sense questioning what is being ‘looked at’ or ‘seen’.

For the past twenty years, Tabatabai has devoted his attention to a very tiny area - an area that comprises the physicality of a line and functions as the transitional space between two entities. He views the ‘line’ as empty space without an agenda or allegiance; it is neither here nor there. Tabatabai believes that by paying attention to this tiny, subtle, yet detailed space, one is forced to turn away from the outside world and focus inward on one’s own interior space.

‘Transitional Spaces’, a new original installation created by Hadi Tabatabai especially for the wats:ON? Festival, will be on exhibition in the College of Fine Arts Great Hall through 02 December.

Hadi Tabatabai’s exhibition, also entitled ‘Transitional Spaces’ will be on exhibition at the Miller Gallery through 12 November.

HADI TABATABAI was born in Mashhad Iran in 1964. He immigrated to the United States in 1977 with his family, settling in California. Tabatabai received a B.S. in industrial technology from California State University Fresno in 1985 and a B.F.A. in painting from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1995. Tabatabai's work has been shown in London, Paris, Turin, Frankfurt, Bonn, Bogotá, and widely in the United States. He has had solo exhibitions at Danese/Corey and Anthony Grant Galleries in New York, Brian Gross Fine Art and Stephen Wirtz Gallery in San Francisco, Peter Blake Gallery in Laguna Beach, and Inde/Jacobs in Marfa Texas. His works are included in the collections of the Achenbach Foundation at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Berkeley Art Museum, (Berkeley California), Delaware Art Museum (Wilmington Delaware), the Contemporary Museum (Honolulu Hawaii), Colby College Museum of Art (Waterville Maine), the Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas (Austin), Davis Museum at Wellesley College (Wellesley MA), Bowdoin College Museum of Art (Brunswick ME), The Lannan Foundation, The Progressive Corporation Art Collection, the Werner H. Kramarsky Collection, Lloyd Cotsen Collection, Gerald E. Buck Collection, the Estate of Agnes Martin and Luc Tuymans.

wats:ON? 2017: SHIFT
02-04 November 2017

SHIFT challenges realms of phenomenal perception, dislocating conditioned ways of seeing to affect a sense of indeterminacy between physical and perceptual space. The experience of these works allows for a transience of fixed perception and the fluid interplay between the rational and the visceral, revealing the exquisite ambiguity of the sublime. 

SPIKE WOLFF   Curator, wats:ON? Artistic and Executive Director
EDDY MAN KIM   Associate Curator, School of Architecture


The Jill Watson Festival Across the Arts (wats:ON?) was created to honor the life of Jill Watson, whose interest in the arts inspired others through her work and her teaching. The festival celebrates Jill's commitment to an interdisciplinary philosophy as an artist and her accomplishments and reputation as an architect. Jill Watson was a Carnegie Mellon University alumna, adjunct faculty member in the School of Architecture, and acclaimed Pittsburgh architect who died in the TWA Flight 800 plane crash on July 17, 1996.


The 2017 wats:ON? Festival is made possible by the generous endowment of the JILL WATSON FAMILY FOUNDATION.

Additional support provided by:
College of Fine Arts at Carnegie Mellon University
Office of the Dean of the College of Fine Arts
School of Architecture
School of Art
School of Music
The Miller Gallery