In ART
In this issue, we go back to basics and review definitions of frequently (or infrequently) words in the art world while referencing art from the MENASA region.

IN THE FOLLOWING ARTICLES, YOU’LL DISCOVER AN ALPHABETICAL LIST OF ART-RELATED WORDS PAIRED WITH ARTWORKS THAT BEST ILLUSTRATE EACH WORD’S MEANING. ALL WORKS ARE BY MIDDLE EASTERN ARTISTS WHO HAVE LEFT AN INDELIBLE IMPRINT UPON THE INTERNATIONAL ART SCENE.

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WATERCOLOUR

Both the medium and works of art made using the medium of watercolour – a water-soluble paint. It is a painting method in which the paints are made of pigments suspended in a water-based solution.

ETEL ADNAN
(b.1925, Beirut, Lebanon, lives and works in Paris, France)
Visual artist, poet and essayist Etel Adnan moves between image-making and texts to “write what must be communicated through language, and paint what cannot.” Adnan is renowned for her vibrantly coloured, abstracted renditions of nature, i.e. mountains, ocean and sky, in a career spanning several decades and encompassing a wide range of media – including painting, drawing, tapestry, film and ceramics. Her Leporellos, accordion-folded booklets once sold in Victorian England as souvenirs, fold out to reveal panoramic illustrations made from ink and watercolour and depicting unpublished poems and fragments of stories. Untitled, a work from 1970, combines poetry with watercolour stains that resemble abstract hieroglyphs and are loosely superimposed with both Arab words and English text.

Etel Adnan, Untitled, 2019. Folded Leporello book, watercolor, and crayon on paper. Cover: 18.2 x 12.2 cm, 24 pages: 17.7 x 11.6 cm each. Courtesy of the artist and Sfeir-Semler Gallery Beirut/Hamburg.
Etel Adnan, Untitled, 2019. Folded Leporello book, watercolor, and crayon on paper. Cover: 18.2 x 12.2 cm, 24 pages: 17.7 x 11.6 cm each. Courtesy of the artist and Sfeir-Semler Gallery Beirut/Hamburg.

WHITE CUBE

A white cube has come to represent a gallery space characterised by its square or oblong shape, white walls and a light source usually from the ceiling. The aesthetic first appeared in the early 20th century as a response to the increasing abstraction of modern art and as a minimalist architecture to create an environment for contemplation when viewing art.

Designed by starchitect Jean Nouvel, the Louvre Abu Dhabi comprises some 50 white-cube galleries that spill from a magnificent perforated steel canopy, bringing to mind Arabic calligraphy off which sunlight flickers across the sprawling 260,000-square-foot complex. Rooms are designed to fit specific works, with custommade granite and marble plinths, glass vitrines and lighting. The Louvre Abu Dhabi is one of several renowned architect-designed cultural institutions on Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island.

WOODCUT

Relief printing technique is an old form of printmaking using knives, scalpel, chisels and other tools to carve designs onto a wooden block. The earliest form of woodcut to decorate textiles began in the fifth century in China.

Mustafa Al Hallaj, Sabra and Shatila, 1993. Woodcut print, 45 x 35 cm. Image courtesy of Barjeel Art Foundation, photographed by Capital D.
Mustafa Al Hallaj, Sabra and Shatila, 1993. Woodcut print, 45 x 35 cm. Image courtesy of Barjeel Art Foundation, photographed by Capital D.

A VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE APPEARED IN PRINT IN SELECTIONS, ART GLOSSARY #52 PAGE 146-148.

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