March 7 – June 7

Mona Saudi is a sculptor who lives and breathes her Middle-Eastern heritage. One of the very few Arab women artists to pursue sculpture, her achievements make her an important figure in the history of Arab art. She has lived through times of great political turmoil during the Lebanese Civil War in Beirut and strongly aligned herself with the Palestinian cause, and yet her artworks feel timeless, serene and distanced from worldly concerns. A survey of her work opens in March at the Sharjah Art Museum, curated by Hoor Al Qasimi and organized by the Sharjah Art Foundation.

When you come face to face with a sculpture by Mona Saudi, whether it is on the monumental scale of Spiritual Geometry outside the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris or a more intimate piece such as Growth, you are immediately struck by the ease with which the artist has worked with her material. Saudi revels in finding different forms of natural stone from the Middle East: black diorite from Syria, alabaster from Yemen and from her native Jordan pink limestone from Irbid and the distinctive, signature green stone, Jordanian Jade.

Saudi writes: “Sculpture is a pure exploration of form, an endless process of research and creation where the variations are infinite.” Always starting with basic shapes, the square, circle, cylinder, rectangle, she goes on to give them movement, a life of their own – either repeating their forms, varying their depths or heights or cutting them across one another to create new, graceful compositions. In the exhibition paintings, drawings and other works on paper inspired by the poetry of Mahmoud Darwish and Adonis enhance an appreciation of her signature sculptures.

Featured image: Mona Saudi , Mother and Child, 1981, Marble, 43 x 24.5 x 20.5 cm , Base diameter 40 cm , Sharjah Art Foundation Collection

A version of this article appeared in print in Selections, Curriculum Vitae #44, pages 26-27.