Enfolding and Unfolding: Geometric Abstraction in Motion
Curated by: Sanna Almajedi
Artists: Himat Mohammed Ali, Ghassan Ghaib, Samia Halaby and her Kinetic Painting Group (Kevin Nathaniel Hylton and Hasan Bakr)
Location: Pfizer Building, 630 Flushing Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11206
Opening reception: Friday, April 21, 2017, 6-9 pm, with a performance by the Kinetic Painting Group
Exhibition dates: April 21-May 14, 2017
To schedule an appointment to view the exhibition, please contact Sanna Almajedi at firstname.lastname@example.org .
MA Curatorial Practice at the School of Visual Arts is pleased to present Enfolding and Unfolding, curated by Sanna Almajedi. The exhibition explores the ways in which arabesque art and Islamic geometric art have influenced three contemporary artists originally from Baghdad, Jerusalem and Kirkuk, all engaged with architectural concerns at the same time that the fluidity of their varied approaches rejects the stereotypes of regional ghettoization.
In the mid 1980s, Samia Halaby began coding software that she calls “Kinetic Paintings.” This software use the rainbow colors of the classic Commodore Amiga personal computer to create geometric forms that move in and out of each other. Their harmonious dance is seen on the interface of the screen, but the underlying structure is the coding process. Similarly, the classic star pattern that covers the walls of mosques is based on a mathematical algorithm that allows it to expand eternally. In both cases, what we see is the skin of the information that forms the basis of the structure. Ghassan Ghaib also uses math to construct his geometrical structures and allow them movement. His work, Out of Place, is a cubical structure made out of eight smaller cubes. This structure unfolds into new geometrical shapes as one moves and twists it, continuously creating a renewed vision of the object while the components remain. Himat Mohammed Ali interprets movement differently. He creates vivid paintings and drawings that resemble arabesque art. He cuts up these artworks into geometrical pieces and combines them into new randomly organized collages. In his work Letters to Ishtar, Himat commissioned the poets Adonis, Mohammed Bennis, Michel Butor, Qassim Haddad, Bernard Noel, Abdel Monem Ramadan and Saadi Yousif to create poetry on the subject of Ishtar, the ancient Mesopotamian goddess of war and love. This work is somewhere between a tribute and a testament to the ongoing destruction of cultural heritage following the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The work serves as a new document of the events, referencing how much of the archive was lost, damaged, looted and burned together with the artifacts. Himat translates the poems that are already available in English, Arabic and French into visual art, using his collage technique that interrupts swirling patterns with harsh geometrical cuts re-pasted onto the surface.
Image credit: Samia Halaby, screenshot from Brass Woman, 1995, image courtesy of the artist.