Sinai Sea View, 2001, from the Sinai series, acrylic on canvas.
Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer
Fann A Porter, the Dubai gallery @ The Workshop, is presenting Believing in Light, a solo exhibition by prominent Lebanese painter, Rana Raouda (Dec. 9 – Jan. 9).
Raouda presents a series of abstract landscapes, intriguing in their hidden messages and exciting in artistic possibilities. “Abstract landscapes”, says Ghada Kunash, Founder, Fann A Porter @ The Workshop, Dubai, “generally allow for the viewer’s own visual connections and interpretation to transport them to a certain place they find in a particular artwork. “However, Rana’s paintings direct viewers to imagine only places wrapped in serenity and calmness”.
Raouda’s bright and vivacious canvases, it must be said, radiate warmth and positivity as she expresses her love of nature through abstract forms. Working with acrylics on canvas, she creates numerous layers, often in various tones of the same colour, giving each painting a sense of depth and movement. Her inspiration comes from life and nature; she paints always from her memory. “When I start a painting I do not plan the entire composition”, she says. “The desire to express myself comes from within and what my brush conveys are moments that I have captured in my mind’s eye.” Abstract painting resembles reality in many different ways. It sets itself as an idealistic expression of the artist’s perception of reality, like an overlaying of an internal model on reality — something like a substantial reflection of reality. It offers an alternative to the world that can be rational (geometrical, architectural, modular), deliciously optical-perceptive and at times somewhat irrational (lyrical, dreamy, gestural).
“Raouda’s paintings”, says Marco Tonelli, art critic and historian, “undoubtedly turns towards a subtle and tenuous line where the artist transforms her inner vision to independent substance. “Why not consider”, he adds, “the idea that a painting like Raouda’s can be a direct manifestation (only though the culture of art) of the emotions of a personality certainly rich in passion, ideas, sentiments, thoughts, and memories?”
According to him, Raouda’s painting “positions itself on the historical watershed of abstract expressionism that has taken extreme and fluctuating attitudes, between the tragic and frantic gestural of Pollock and Rothko’s ‘inaction’ or Newman’s, where iconoclastic manifestations open all doors to mystical and sacred visions”. Certainly, we cannot dismiss the identity of the artist and her emotions, as visible in her work. Raouda believes that we can activate pure, beautiful and untouchable substances, which have been made incomprehensible and untimely by the noise and chaos of the contemporary world. Her paintings, concludes Tonelli, once the contradictions and neuroses of reality are removed, appear like a veil that gently marries the living body of thoughts and experiences.
For centuries, landscapes ranked pitifully low (just above animal paintings) in the French Académie’s official hierarchy of artistic genres. But abstract landscape art defied what was later defined as an outdated outlook. Abstraction completely transformed the conceptual definition of what landscapes can be, and the ways they might be explored in contemporary art. Early abstract artists raised the stature of landscape painting by utilising it as a genre of choice to convey their rapidly evolving methods. Georges Braque prolifically painted Fauvist landscapes. Later, Pablo Picasso and Albert Gleizes — the leading voices of Cubism — routinely utilised landscapes as ideal subjects through which to explore their groundbreaking ideas. Hans Hofmann was an avid painter of landscapes. He taught many of the leading abstract painters of the 20th century, and directly or indirectly posed the question to them of what the word landscape could potentially come to mean. Abstraction allows contemporary painters total freedom to explore new perspectives on the landscape.
Raouda is a prominent Lebanese painter. Born in Beirut in 1961, she studied Fine Arts at the Lebanese American University of Beirut, and after graduating in 1983, she continued her training in the field at The Torpedo Factory of Virginia in 1988, followed by Corcoran School of Art in Washington DC in 1992 and The Monoprint Workshop in New Mexico in 1992. She has successfully showcased her work internationally at solo and group exhibitions mainly in France, Italy, Switzerland, UAE and Lebanon. Her work shows abstract facets that come together to convey a unique story to each viewer. She has received recognition from curators, collectors, critics and museums alike. Her work has been displayed in important collections, art museums and art galleries around the world. “My paintings are vertical, meant to lift one up. It comes from a stubborn belief in love and beauty in a world where these things can be hard to find. This is what my work is about,” she says.
Fann A Porter is a contemporary art gallery that represents a diverse selection of emerging international and regional artists. It aims to nurture the burgeoning and dynamic contemporary art scene through quality exhibitions, non-profit events, auctions and an active community programme. With locations in Dubai, UAE and Amman, Jordan, in Dubai the gallery is based at The Workshop, an inter-disciplinary community space consisting of a cafe, art gallery, sustainable store and design space, providing visitors with a diversified artistic and cultural experience. “Bathed in natural sunlight with its garden, The Workshop is located in the heart of Jumeirah in Dubai”, Kunash notes. Fann A Porter Amman is based in Manara Arts & Culture, a creative hub and social space in the heart of Jabal Al Lweibdeh.
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