Variations on a bird theme
Many artists, from the Middle East and otherwise, have found inspiration in traditional Arabic-Islamic calligraphy and their accompanying floral and geometrical motifs.
can seem repetitive for those accustomed to representational art, but for innovative and imaginative artists who take their inspiration from classical Islamic forms, the results can be fresh and eye-catching, if not thought-provoking.
This point of departure is evident in the work of Syrian painter Mouteea Murad, as is evident in “Through the Looking Glass II,” his latest exhibition. The same is true of geometrically inspired pieces in “Less or More,” the recent show by Nahed Mansour.
“Variations Geometriques,” the Villa Audi’s latest exhibition, is a tribute to the late Gebran Tarazi, who died in 2010. The retrospective, which has been extended until the middle of the month, was arranged by the artist’s wife Mona Tarazi, Ibrahim Najjar, Samir Tabet and many more of his close associates from Lebanon’s artistic community.
The exhibition showcases a series of Tarazi’s paintings on various media, particularly wood panels and cardboard. The show is comprised of more than 60 pieces, each accompanied by texts composed by the artist’s colleagues and family.
Mona Tarazi told The Daily Star that her husband’s work depended on his intuition. “His works were always instinctive,” she said, “he had no precise plan in mind.”
In his first series of works, Tarazi focused on the theme of the Qayem Nayem, which was often deployed in handmade wooden items. It consists of four rectangles clustered around an empty square.
In one of these untitled works, Tarazi explored the variations on a theme of colored rectangles. Some 36 variations are assembled on a 68 x 68 cm wooden panel, with each rectangle slightly darker or lighter than the one alongside. What seems to be an assemblage of colorful rectangles is the result of an precise study of color and shade.
Another of his Qayem Nayem works displays a wide palette of colors, with wooden rectangles protruding from the media like a puzzle in bas relief or an antique board game. Pinks, blues, browns and yellows penetrate the piece without suffocating the piece.
Most of Tarazi’s art works with rectangular and square motifs, all radiating a sense of harmony and symmetry.
Written by Tarazi’s friends, the texts accompanying the works are nearly as important as the works themselves. One tribute, written by philosophy teacher Michel Ribon, states that Tarazi’s works “take the shape of a furious quest for a lost unity, of a repeated grouping of elements.” Further on, Ribon writes that “a similar tone always supports [the colors] in order to emphasize unity.”
One metallic paint-on-wood panel deploys the same shades of red, yellow and blue used in other pieces – but here gold-hued frames separate, and link, the shapes. It is like a labyrinth assembled with an eye to geometrical cohesion rather than becoming lost.
Another series works with stylized variations on the theme of birds. One such work (measuring 68 x 68 cm) deploys different red and green figures embedded in square tiles. Each tile reflects the other, in a mirror effect. The kaleidoscopic salute to Tarazi and his work is a tour de force of symmetry.
Gebran Tarazi’s “Variations Geometriques” has been extended at Ashrafieh’s Villa Audi until Jan. 13. For more information please call 01-200-445.