BIN MATAR HOUSE
21 November 2009
Memory of the Place
4:00pm to 7:00pm
Faces As Witness
Fouad Naïm’s work revolves around the human being and through it he comes closer to mystery and interrogation. From abstract geometrical shapes, signs and letters scattered across the canvas to figurative and minimal forms his creative vision is born, fusing color and light.
Fouad Naïm presents us with a work that broadens our vision, eliminating the boundaries between civilizations and between cultures. And as much as he draws from the well of artistic heritage he remains alert to innovations in modern plastic arts. Thus, the artist’s work is founded on a vast culture that is not limited to the plastic arts, but embraces the influences of literature and music as well. And so music is not absent from Fouad Naïm’s work, for here the rhythm is master. In the interlacing of its elements and the harmony of its different constituents his artistic output evokes a musical texture. Sometimes he works on the canvas as though he were painting a mural. The colors and layering of paint are reminiscent of theater, a domain familiar to him through his directing of avant-garde plays that have left their mark on modern Lebanese theater.
Fouad Naïm has already explored the face in his previous work. He approaches its hidden traits as though painting from the sanctuary of its own intimacy. Sometimes, the line between the face and mask is blurred but its magnetism is undiminished by its place on the canvas, whether in the center or merely one of its multifarious components. We cannot see the situation but only the witnesses, their eyes fixed on a distant horizon, the scream of their silent faces like a gash embedded in their depths. Their eyes, wide open, call to mind the statues of Easter Island, whose endless gaze leaves us to wonder whether it’s directed outwards or within.
The faces are both static and in motion, a dreamlike purity the source of their mystery. And if in his latest work, Fouad Naïm has chosen this figurative style, one must stress that it does not retreat within itself but remains open to an abstract space deep within the painting, sometimes revealing the symbols and totems of his previous work. In one of his paintings, two faces rise, ascending beside one another. Two yellow streaks like flames in the light of dusk engrave their presence into the background, all the brighter for it’s blackness. There is no presumption of proof here, only the face’s continuous witnessing of its own presence, solitude and estrangement; of its own inexorable destiny. Its passage is towards itself before the Other, both similar and different.
Throughout the ages, from the Sumerians to the present day, artists have approached the face as a mysterious world, certain great 20th century painters going so far as to deconstruct it to apprehend its innermost niches. Thus, the human face has come to reflect the human being’s different states and contradictions, in a journey marrying fear and beauty, serenity and wariness, and the illusion of passing things. It’s in this spirit that one should appreciate the work of Fouad Naïm. His is a language of signs and sparks, we must look at it as we would into a mirror and its colors and lines will carry us to great spaces, still pregnant with dreams and surprises.
Writer & Poet
Paris, October 2009