“The drawings of Ania Soliman constitute a complex body of research into how the switch from theory to practice, from world-views to worlds, or from epistemology to ontology, unveils many dilemmas. […] Soliman’s work deals with much more than lines and forms and colors and compositions. There is a reason why much of her work takes a large scale: it needs a battleground on which to address belief – the way it shapes the self, how the self relates to the “I”, and the “I” to all the others”. Chus Martinez1
Centering around the idea of the Terraform, or the artificial reproduction of earth ecologies, the painting and drawing exhibition delves into the realms of the multi-layered connections, intersections and mergers between nature, technology, and humans. Soliman is a conceptual artist whose research-based practice often results in monochromic large-scale works on paper. After a month spent in Beirut, she produced works on canvas for the first time, using spray-paint, artificial and natural plants as well as pieces from dismantled obsolete machinery to leave organic shapes, poetic arabesques, or rough spontaneous streaks of paint on the fabric. The seriality and scale of these canvases that carry in their making both mechanical planning as well as natural impulses, underline the feeling of urgency and anxiety in our relationship to nature, to the point of acquiring sculptural attributes and becoming curtain-like objects hung in an engulfing loose rectangle.
While the spray-painted canvases are produced through performative action-painting, with quick bold moves that fill the space, the works on paper in Phtalo green follow a methodical process foregrounded by the artist and that allows her to identify the background from the objects that she draws using pigments, wax, and encaustic. The annotation system, revolving around the figure-ground relationship, becomes in turn part of the work, and results in surfaces that completely ignore central perspective. The four-paneled work on paper Terraform depicts a rainforest and turns a computer screensaver into an immersive experience, prompting the viewer to look for the tree, the leaves or the tiger concealed by the landscape. This specific color is used in a whole series that refers to our visual technologies and their addictive circuits: the toxic green works stem from the encounter with a culture that humans can no longer control.
Courtesy of Sfeir Semler Gallery