Experiment with Calligraphy

Saloua Raouda Choucair Lebanese

Not on view

Experiment with Calligraphy counts among Choucair’s earliest experiments with abstraction, and belongs to a group of works that she termed her "geometric paintings." She painted the work in the late 1940s using basic geometric forms inspired by her research on Islamic art and her studies in mathematics, as well as her interest in a European tradition of avant-garde abstraction. Overlapping fields of color frame a stack of abstract forms composed using only straight lines and curves, while the title Experiment with Calligraphy suggests a relationship between these forms and the written word. The vertical sequence of forms that appear in the gouache also recall later sculptural works by Choucair such as Poem/Qasida (1966–68): a stack of three-dimensional forms that also resembles a high-rise building composed of repeated units or modules. The word for house (bayt, pl. buyut) in Arabic may also refer to the stanza of a poem. This slippage between the Arabic language and the modernist structures she admired is constitutive of much of her practice in the 1950s and 60s, and underscored the nature of her work as synthesis of Arab cultural traditions and modernist methods.

Experiment with Calligraphy, Saloua Raouda Choucair (Lebanese, Beirut 1916–2017 Beirut), Gouache on paperboard

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