Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
Los Angeles, CA
Abdulnasser Gharem: Pause presents a remarkable body of work born in the aftermath of the tragic events of September 11, 2001. That the artist—Abdulnasser Gharem—is a Muslim, an Arab, and a lieutenant colonel in the Saudi Arabian army will likely provide added resonance for an American audience, while serving to remind us that terrorism is a global phenomenon. For Gharem, like most of us, seeing the World Trade Center destroyed on television was one of those terrible moments that seems to make the world stand still or pause.
Gharem has deeply absorbed this notion of pause into his work both as an occasion to examine certain universal dichotomies, which lead us to choose our life’s paths, and more literally by using the digital symbol for pause—a pair of rectangles—as a visual metaphor for the Twin Towers. Although the media and platforms for his work clearly borrow from the mainstreams of modern art, the narratives and images are drawn from his everyday world, while many of his motifs—including geometric designs and floral arabesques—belong to the canon of Islamic art. These are powerful and provocative works that only gradually reveal their meanings.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website
Whether or not you go, Abdulnasser Gharem: Art of Survival takes readers to the very heart of what it is to stand against the tide, to innovate, and to do so fearlessly, and it reveals precisely what happens when a trickster positions himself both at the center of society and at its margins. If there is just one thing to say about a book on Abdulnasser Gharem, whose works are in the collections of LACMA and the V&A, it is that it is not destined to sit on a coffee table. This book presents one of Saudi Arabia’s most talked-about contemporary artists, Abdulnasser Gharem (b. 1973). Gharem is widely regarded as a pioneer in the Middle East for his firebrand intellectual courage and innovative use of materials, including rubber stamps, a collapsed bridge, and an invasive tree.
Abdulnasser Gharem: Art of Survival