When viewers attend exhibitions, their eyes become their most important sense. The aptly chosen title of Furn al-Shubbak’s Cynthia Nouhra Art Gallery’s latest collective exhibition says it all: “Contemplation” is the order of the day, with 22 paintings on display by a range of artists including Samir Abi Rached, Fadia Hadati and gallerist Cynthia Nouhra, to name a few.Rached’s untitled oil on canvas portrays a woman with long black hair, gazing straight ahead. She wears a long white drape, covering her from neck to toe. Her golden skin color and thick, jet-black hair suggest she might be Native American. At her feet stands a copper (or bronze) pot full of the embers of an unidentified material, engulfing the subject with smoke.
What is interesting in Rached’s painting is the way the smoke turns into light, as though the woman has an aura. Her legs and toes, hidden by the sheet, might make some viewers think of a ghost-like figure – almost esoteric.
Her physical features and the atmosphere suggested by the painting convey the idea of looking at a shaman, an intermediary between the real and supernatural worlds.
That same impression of esoteric or surreal can be found in the gallerist’s abstract acrylics on canvas. In “Blue” (150x100 cm), Nouhra uses a palette of warm and cold colors. Explosive hues of reds, whites and blues invade the canvas like artistic dynamite.
Nouhra’s tour de force lies in this blending of colors and a combination of light and shadows, which result in a harmonious painting.
The title doesn’t say much about the intentions of the artist. However, onlookers have a certain freedom of interpretation while looking at her artwork. Is this abstract scenery a representation of an abyss, with corals and shells? The answer is uncertain, but Nouhra nevertheless succeeds in drawing the viewer into her colorful, dynamic world.
Her “Lehut 08” (150x100 cm) also stands out with a vivid combination of media. Although the meaning of the title is a mystery, onlookers are captivated and hypnotized by this striking blending of purples and whites.
Here again, there is only uncertainty as to the artist’s source of inspiration. But this certainly doesn’t disturb the viewer’s ability to plunge visually into the work.
Observers can imagine whatever they want: waves moving to the wind, a field of lavender or maybe the branches of a lilac tree. The artist’s main objective was to represent a constant “quest for light” in her works, she told The Daily Star.
Nouhra’s works aren’t the only ones to transport onlookers into another artistic world.
Hadati’s oil on canvas piece entitled “Towards the Light” (90x62 cm) depicts the inside of a field of wheat, where two large water bubbles levitate. These bubbles seem to radiate light, almost eclipsing the sunlight at the top of the canvas.
The wheat straws create a circle, surrounding the two bubbles, as though longing to be watered. Viewers realize the source of light mentioned in the title isn’t the most obvious one – the sun – but the suds.
Some people may not respond to Hadati’s works, but she succeeds in showing her mastery of detail and clarity. Each husk of each wheat straw is distinct and the bubbles – almost transparent – add depth and perspective to Hadati’s work.
The exhibition also features works by Lebanese artist Chawky Frenn, who turns the playful symbolism of the doll inside out, giving it a disturbing and quite dark significance.
Antoine Mansour’s “The Spiral Clock Climber” (190x107 cm) is also on display, showing a nude man climbing a spiral clock like a set of old-fashioned stairs.
The artist’s work could be seen by some viewers as an ode to transcendentalism, an idea conveyed by the man’s right foot stepping into void.
This exhibition showcases a large selection of paintings, from abstract to surrealist, encouraging onlookers to take a visual trip through the artists’ varying worlds.
The collective exhibition “Contemplation” is now up at Furn al-Shubbak’s Cynthia Nouhra Art Gallery until Oct. 5. For more information, please call 01-281-755 or visit the website www.cnag.me.