Elmarsa Gallery in Dubai presents The Brushstrokes & Perspectives, a group exhibition focusing on the Art Informel and Abstract Expressionism movements. On view are the works by eight modern and contemporary artists: Nasser Assar, Chafic Abboud, Abdelkader Guermaz, Hedi Turki, Leopoldo Torres-Agüero, Asma M’Naouar, Mahjoub Ben Bella, and Mohammed Khadda. The show will run through 28 October 2023.
Non-figurative painting emerged as the result of mass migrations after World War II. Coined as Art Informel in Paris and Abstract Expressionism in New York during the 1940s, a wave of experimentation, which included movements such as Kinetic Art in the 1950s-70s, indicated a clear desire for change within the art world.
Reflecting the changing cultural, social, and technological landscape, these movements highlighted the desire to create art that traverses traditional boundaries. Progressive international travel allowed the Émigré artists to explore styles based on expressive, lyrical, and dynamic modes of painting. Now, the focus was on the stroke itself. Artists rejected classical humanism and its fundamental art principles. They chose no longer to abide by figurative precision, which had often been considered the correct perspective by the bourgeoisie.
About the participants
Painter Nasser Assar (1928, Tehran, Iran — 2011, Paris, France), whose father was a professor of oriental philosophy, was interested in the Tachisme, Nuagisme, and lyrical abstraction movements. His art was also influenced by Chinese painting of the High Period. In his artworks, Assar combined the ethereality of landscape and the gesture of lyrical abstraction. In the 1970s, he turned to figuration and started painting plant and animal forms, landscapes, and the sky.
Chafic Abboud (1926, Mhaidseh, Lebanon — 2004, Paris, France), one of the most significant Lebanese artists of the 20th century, drew inspiration from the vivid landscapes of his youth in Lebanon. Employing a full range of mediums (oils, watercolours, ceramics, etc.), he produced works which incorporate folkloric elements and Byzantine and Orthodox Christian symbolism. Abboud’s art pieces tell the viewers about his life events through colours and forms. Apart from landscapes and childhood memories, the themes he turned to in his work also included the night and windows.
Painter Abdelkader Guermaz (1919, Algeria — 1996, Paris) was among the founders of modern art in Algeria. Until 1955, he worked in the figurative style of the Peintres de la Réalité Poétique (a French art movement) and painted landscapes and still-lifes. After 1955, fascinated by Avant-garde Parisian art, Guermaz started painting abstract landscapes: modulated neutral fields punctuated by touches of colour and grid-like patterns.
Painter and sculptor Hedi Turki (1922, Tunis, Tunisia — 2019) was a pioneer of abstract art in Tunisia. His early artworks were figurative. After studying art in Paris and Rome, Turki went to the USA where he discovered abstract art at Columbia University. He moved towards a more abstract painting style, working on colour fields and lines which looked like grids. Turki’s art, both figurative and abstract, was filled with a deep sense of Tunisia and marked by a somewhat religious aspect.
Leopoldo Torres-Agüero (1924, Buenos Aires, Argentina — 1995, Paris) was a painter, sculptor, writer, and musician who belonged to the Arte Madí movement. He also contributed to the creation of the South American kinetic and optical movement. As an artist, Agüero looked for light and perception, not the notion of movement. In his mysterious works, he employed simple shapes (the square, sphere, and circle) and gave them a particular dimension through the light intensity. The artist brought to his painting a whole spiritual and symbolic dimension.
The art style of Asma M’Naouar (b. 1965, Tunis) is rooted in lyrical abstraction. In her oil paintings, she focuses on the red colour and portrays an expressive world of fiery lights by using different tones. The artist’s works blend thickness and transparency and form a free-form geometry with curved and oblong shapes. M’Naouar builds her compositions with layers of colour, thus enhancing a sense of depth.
Painter and designer Mahjoub Ben Bella (1946, Maghnia, French Algeria — 2020, Tourcoing, France) is particularly famous for his murals and cobblestone designs for Paris–Roubaix (a one-day professional bicycle road race in France). This road fresco created in 1986 extends 12 km (35, 000 sqm). The artist’s works are characterised by a thickness of colour and repeated use of sign-like marks resembling a script. Recurrent features in his visual language are the square structure, lines, and bands drawn architecturally and filled with graphic imagery.
Mohammed Khadda (1930, Mostaganem, French Algeria — 1991, Algiers, Algeria), a painter, sculptor, and writer, was among the founders of contemporary Algerian painting. Inspired by Cubism and Arabic calligraphy, in his work, he combined the ideas of calligraphic heritage and the formal language of Western writing through Western abstraction.
To learn more about The Brushstrokes & Perspectives, please visit the exhibition’s official web page.
You might also be interested in attending Lasting Impressions: Samia Halaby at the Sharjah Art Museum.
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