Event Details

Cardinal Points – French-Iraqi artist Mehdi Moutashar’s first solo at the gallery – presents a curation of contemporary artworks and a large-scale installation that are quintessential to his practice, celebrating Moutashar as a meeting point between Islamic tradition and experimental optical art.

Born in Iraq in 1943, Moutashar spent most of his artistic life in his chosen home France, where he moved to in 1967. Very early on, his practice embraced the hard-edge abstraction and Op-Art movements of the 1960’s, becoming part of the roster of the legendary Denis René Gallery in Paris, renowned for her geometric and kinetic art programme, where he exhibited alongside artists such as Francois Morellet, Julio Le Park, Viktor Vaserelly and Carlos Cruz Diez. At the same time, he never lost sight of his innate Iraqi, Babylonian and Islamic art influences and was guided by their mathematical and geometric investigations as well as their early methods and systems. In recognition of the “contemporary relevance of his work” and ability to demonstrate a “profound understanding of the cultures from which he comes” he was a joint winner of the Jameel Prize 5 (2018).

In Cardinal Points, the exhibition’s centrepiece is Trois angles à 135° (Three Angles at 135°) nicknamed by the artist as “The Spider”. This large-scale work is made up [hundreds] of wooden blocks accented with blue and produced by the intersection of three broken lines that spread outwards in six directions. The use of blocks and glimpses of blue reference the architectural traditions of Mesopotamia where mud bricks were highlighted in an ultramarine blue glaze. Moutashar does not think of his floor pieces as sculptures or installations but rather as Constructions – constructed as they are of elements within a certain arrangement, in this case a mutable space of broken lines that appear to rotate.

This sense of rotation and dynamism is also apparent in Moutashar’s wall-based works. Using only black, white and ultramarine blue, these geometric sculpture-paintings give the illusion of an object in flux – either spinning or moving deliberately towards a target. In his black steel works for example, each black rectangle is folded against itself and arranged as if to trace the points of a spiralling object.

In his other wall-based works he combines rectangles and squares made from steel, wood and elastic, endlessly configuring and reconfiguring them into energetic geometric compositions according to a set of rules of the artist’s devising. In all of these works the artist is equally concerned with the voids as with the solid parts, with light and obscurity, leaving the viewer to create their own imagined outlines.

Moutashar’s working method and visual language reveal themselves in the titles of the works. Recurring words such plis (folds), mouvement (movement), angles and carrés (squares) appear in many of his titles. Though rarely explicitly calligraphic, his works also share certain traits with Arabic calligraphy. Hence, Moutashar’s squares recall the nuqta (dots) of the qalam (reed pen); his black rectangles and lines fold in on themselves, attenuating like calligraphic flourishes; his rule-based approach recalling those laid down by Ibn Muqla, Arab Vizer and calligraphers in the 10th century.

Alongside these are a group of works entitled Mouvements (2016) in which Moutashar remakes his lost geometric paintings from the late 1960s. Rather than using paper or canvas, his choice of laser-cut steel, painted either blue or black, allows for very different optical effects.

Mehdi Moutashar’s work inhabits a world of angles, folds and in-between spaces; an elusive universe that occupies the space between Iraq, his home of origin, and France, his home of choice.

Image caption: Mehdi Moutashar, Three Folds at 60° and Two Squares, 2021. Painted wood, painted steel, elastic wire, 141 x 191 cm.

Courtesy of Lawrie Shabibi



October 5 (Tuesday) - November 24 (Wednesday)


Lawrie Shabibi

Unit 21, Alserkal Avenue, Al-Quoz 1, Dubai, UAE



SELECTIONS is a platform for the arts, focusing on the Arab World.

Selections editorial presents a quarterly print magazine and weekly online publication with high quality content on all subjects related to Art and Culture. Full of world-leading artworks, exquisite brand imagery, original creative illustrations and insightful written articles.
Selections Viewing Rooms presents carefully curated online art shows aiming not only to shed light on contemporary art executed by living artists, but also for viewers to buy contemporary fine art, prints & multiples, photography, street art and collectibles.
Discover the previous and current shows here.
Cultural Narratives foundation is an extensive collection that is travelling the world by leading established and emerging talents aiming to reflect the culture of the region in their works.


Nathalie Khayat’s Ceramics at Marianne Boesky Gallery

Marianne Boesky Gallery introduces an array of ceramic creations by the Beirut-based artist, Nathalie Khayat, seamlessly integrated within Part II of its summer showcase in Aspen, CO. Through her stonewares, ranging from serving bowls and candle holders to vases, Khayat…

Toba Khedoori at David Zwirner

David Zwirner announces the exhibition opening of the new and recent works of Toba Khedoori at its 537 West 20th Street location in New York. This exhibition follows the artist’s extensive survey held at the Fridericianum in Kassel, Germany, in…

AlUla Design Award announces 10 Finalists

Arts AlUla has unveiled the 10 finalists for the second edition of the AlUla Design Award. These finalists are set to showcase their designs at Paris Design Week, where the unveiling of the 5 winners will take place on September…

‘Intermediary Spaces’ by Edgard Mazigi at Art on 56th Beirut

Art on 56th  announces the solo exhibition titled “Intermediary Spaces” by Lebanese artist Edgard Mazigi. This exhibition delves into the realm where abstraction and figuration intersect, representing a return to the core of art, a journey back to the essence…

‘Cotton Under My Feet: The Hamburg Chapter’ by Walid Raad at The Hamburger Kunsthalle

In collaboration with the International Summer Festival 2023 held at Kampnagel in Hamburg, the Hamburger Kunsthalle is presenting a unique project by Lebanese-American artist Walid Raad. The Hamburg Chapter represents an adaptation of Raad’s earlier exhibition, Cotton Under My Feet,…

‘What Palestine Brings to the World’ at the Institut du Monde Arabe

Under the banner of “What Palestine Brings to the World,” the Institut du Monde Arabe aims to illuminate Palestine’s profound artistic, poetic, and cultural allure. This title also presents a challenge to the world, offering a fresh perspective: Palestine is…

october 2023

03may(may 3)09:0026nov(nov 26)20:00LOBI LOBI - BOBO LAND - Comic Craze Vol. 3

27may(may 27)09:0014jan(jan 14)09:00THE CASABLANCA ART SCHOOL

29may(may 29)09:0016oct(oct 16)09:00Silent Hands