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The New York Times | What to See in N.Y.C. Galleries in March

Like Prymachenko, Khadim Ali also imagines creatures, although from a different time and place. The artist, who grew up in Pakistan near the Afghanistan border, comes from a family of Hazaras, a group persecuted by the Taliban. As a child, he was enchanted by his grandfather reciting verses from the “Shahnameh,” an illustrated Persian epic poem. As a teenager, Ali worked on propaganda murals in Iran, before returning to Pakistan and studying miniature painting. Eventually he moved to Australia.

You can see these poetic and political influences at play in “Birth of Demons,” his exhibition of paintings and tapestries. A series of delicate gouaches features a character with horns, wings and sagging belly. He represents the vilification of the Hazaras and other refugees, and is named after Rostam, a hero of the “Shahnameh.” Set sometimes against a blood-red background, he seems to be stuck waiting, more pensive than gallant or menacing.

Ali’s tapestries, collaborations with Afghan artisans, steal the show. In these big, dynamic scenes, the traditions of miniature and mural painting combine beautifully via embroidered silk. Two tapestries feature cartoonish jumbles of demons fighting in clouds. The third, “Birth of Demons 7” (2024), depicts a clown leading a procession of angels that carries a soldier-god. Ali’s mythical world mirrors our own: glorified violence is as constant as the weather and there are no heroes coming to save us.