In Landmarks II, the latest solo exhibition by Sharjah-based artist Thaier Helal a new series of works are shown at Ayyam Gallery’s DIFC location. These new works take as a point of depar-ture his earlier Mountain and River Series, continuing the artist’s interest in the natural envi-ronment.

The colorful works use swathes of mostly blue and green hues, done in a kind of proto-impasto technique, whereby paint and other materials such as sand and glue are applied to each canvas in thick layers in order to give each work a kind of earthly, textural, three-dimensional quality.

Some of the more noteworthy canvases in the exhibition are circular in format, like Water (2016), which gives the appearance of ripples on a lake. Others include large-scale rectangular canvases like Throne of Water II (2016), which strives to capture the sensation of water yet again, albeit provoking the viewer to consider the actual impossibility of doing so.

Not long ago, the Impressionists—led by Claude Monet—were interested in painting en plein air, a technique which they saw as allowing them to get closer to nature. They saw this tech-nique as important because it gave them access to the outdoors, whereas before most painters would remain locked away in studios only able to peripherally gaze into nature from a window. The Impressionists became immensely successful, in part, because their style was likened not to a circumvention of nature, but rather to it’s evanescent and impenetrability. For them, light and water were informed by movement and time, crucial elements of human perception and experience that could be dissected from numerous visual angles, though never fully nor accu-rately captured.

Similarly, Helal’s work attempts to move past capturing an exact likeness of nature, instead, it attempts to capture it’s fading, ephemeral and perceptual essence. The works accentuate an un-derstanding of light, water, movement and the changing effect of each on perceptive fields of vision. Compositionally, the works move past any resemblance to recognizable forms–like trees or bodies of water–instead seeking to integrate pigments and other media that act as syn-thetic stand-ins. All told, Helal’s works are able to capture the sublime and fleetingness of na-ture in a way not altogether dissimilar from the Impressionists, beyond the white cube, remind-ing the viewer of nature’s timelessness and boundless serenity, beautiful enchantment, and splendour.

Thaier Helal’s Landscapes II runs from 9 January to 4 March 2017 at Ayyam Gallery’s DIFC location (11 Alserkal Avenue)