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Arario Gallery
521 West 25th street, 212-206-2760
June 26 - July 24, 2009
Reception: Thursday, June 25, 6 - 8 PM
Web Site

Arario New York—a gallery for Asian contemporary art—is pleased to present Paraphrase, an exciting group exhibition featuring newly commissioned works by Aakash Nihalani, Cui Fei and Minette Mangahas. The exhibition will be on view June 26 – July 24, 2009. An opening reception will be held at the gallery on Thursday, June 25 from 6pm to 8pm.

Paraphrase takes the act of writing as its starting point. The title—meaning a restatement of a text or passage; to put something in your own words; or to give meaning in another form—suggests how these artists approach long-established written and visual languages. Nihalani, Cui and Mangahas translate word forms, characters and letters in distinct ways, yet their works intermingle and overlap in the space of the exhibition. The artists share a particular affinity in their relationship to the outdoors and site-specific practice.

Rising street artist Aakash Nihalani started “bombing” the streets of New York City with his colorful isometric forms just over a year ago. What began as repetitive silkscreen studies in the studio later developed into Nihalani’s signature approach to open-air installations. Using tape as his sole medium, he highlights the geometry of the city—from subway signage to a slab of concrete—with clean rectangles, squares and cubes. Employing the modus operandi of graffiti writers, Nihalani revamps public space, offering fresh perspectives and creating room for new words and ideas. His installation for Paraphrase will make use of both the walls and floors of the gallery. He will also utilize the windows that run along Arario’s south wall (facing 25th Street) to exhibit new works on mirror.

Whereas Nihalani primarily works outside, Cui Fei typically works indoors but gathers her materials from nature. Using organic forms such as twigs, tendrils, leaves and thorns, she arranges them on the wall to evoke the vertical strips of Chinese calligraphy. Her manuscripts symbolize, as she states, “the voiceless messages in nature that are waiting to be discovered and to be heard.” Cui’s ongoing installation Manuscript of Nature V (2002-present) will be on view along with a new in situ piece composed of thorns.

Minette Mangahas explores the affinities between calligraphy and graffiti, thus relating the two forms. For her series Flash, she photographed, and interpreted graffiti tags on the streets of Oakland, San Francisco and New York and interpreted them through the lens of East Asian calligraphy. Mangahas studied with the celebrated Japanese Zen calligrapher Kazuaki Tanahashi for eight years. The title of the series comes from her experience of seeing street pieces, which “often have people’s attention for a flash of a moment.” At Arario, the artist will expand on this series in a large-scale wall installation that incorporates urban detritus.


Aakash Nihalani was raised in Jackson Heights, Queens. He earned his BFA from New York University in 2008. Since that time, he has had solo exhibitions with Art Assets LLC, and 17 Frost Gallery in Brooklyn (presented by Manhattan’s Bose Pacia Gallery). Recent group exhibitions and projects include the New York Street Advertising Takeover, organized by Jordan Seigler of the Public Ad Campaign (2009); Hollowood, a Neo-Con Collective exhibition at Carmichael Gallery of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA (2009); Street Crush at Alpha Beta Gallery, New York, NY (2009); and Piece Process at Anonymous Gallery, New York, NY (2008). Last fall, Nihalani was featured on the New York Times blog, The Moment; and in a City Magazine spread about up and coming young artists living in New York. His work has also been highlighted on Wooster Collective, a world-renowned website for street art, on several occasions. The artist resides in Brooklyn.

Cui Fei was born in Jinan, China. She received her MFA in painting at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and received her BFA degree from the China Academy of Fine Arts. In recent years, Cui’s work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions at important venues such as the Queens Museum of Art, Queens, NY (2008-2009); White Space Gallery, London, UK (2008); Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT (2008); Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, DE (2008); New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, CT (2007); Wave Hill, Bronx, NY (2006); and Chelsea Art Museum, New York, NY (2006), among others. Later this year, her work will be on view in the inaugural exhibition, Here and Now, at New York City’s Museum of Chinese in America. Her work has been cited in various publications including Art in America, The New Yorker and the New York Times.

Minette Mangahas recently relocated from the California Bay Area, where her work has been exhibited and screened at venues throughout the state. She received her BA from Duke University, and is currently in the Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University. Mangahas has had solo exhibitions at The Sangati Center, San Francisco, CA (2008 and 2007); MidCity Arts, Los Angeles, CA (2008); and SomArts Cultural Center, San Francisco (2006). Her work is currently on view in the group exhibition Calligraffiti: Writing in Contemporary Chinese and Chicano Art at the Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, CA; and will be included in the 2010 group exhibition Echo Me, Echo Me at Project Row Houses in Houston, Texas (curated by artist William Cordova). The artist’s first solo exhibition in New York will open at Seobin Park Gallery later this year.
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