The Third Line presents Rainbow Clearance and Other Paintings, the solo exhibition with Los Angeles based artist Sarah Awad. Occupying both gallery spaces, Awad presents a series of new paintings that traverse notions of space, colour and the act of looking.

Sarah Awad_In Tune 2022
Courtesy of the artist and The Third Line, Dubai
Credit: Martin Elder

Rainbow Clearance and Other Paintings marks Awad’s first solo presentation outside of her home state of California. With paintings rendered in large-scale – a preference on the artist’s part to allow an interpretation of colour and form – the collection is dense with colour and takes on the theme of isolation. It isn’t isolation in the sense of remoteness or seclusion per se, but rather in the function of looking outward and inward, or as Awad puts it: “The way the paint can allow you to see through something to see something else that is coming from the form of the work.” Awad maintains, however, that the paintings are void of narratives, “but hold gesture, body and colour” and are intended to be “open-ended” in their interpretation. “They are figurations, not illustrations,” she asserts.

There is a vigour in Awad’s charged and obvious layering, and a dynamism to her grouping of colours – on a palette, they may seem disharmonious, but on her canvases, they are utterly captivating. Colours excite her, especially those that one assumes do not go together. “One fundamental aspect about colour is its relation to other colours. I am aware of colour relationships and the spatial relationships that happen,” she says.

Sarah Awad Rainbow Clearance 2022
Courtesy of the artist and The Third Line, Dubai
Credit: Martin Elder

Time and again, Awad refers to these ‘relationships’ as collisions, largely because she intends on colours and materials to make impact. The painting begins life flat on the ground at first and Awad then constructs it with transparent washes. The emerging shapes and colour relationships dictate the painting’s aesthetic direction,
“allowing the materials to bleed and develop different edges” and it is then hung on the wall where the figuration, or rather, “the collision” is imposed. “The forms that are happening will inform the figures,” explains Awad. “I don’t know what it will be, nor do I know who the figures are.”

The energy is electric, and yet, however systematic the configuration appears, it is guided by Awad’s instinct and that is solely led by trial and error. What looks like a vibrant arrangement is the artist’s continuous attempt at solving textural and colour riddles on her canvases. Thankfully, those have endless possibilities,
meaning Awad’s journey is a life-long exploration in colour and materiality. “If I understand it, then it loses its power,” she says. “The same palette can yield different colour combinations and that is limitless.”

Sarah Awad Sooth Sayer 2022
Courtesy of the artist and The Third Line, Dubai
Credit: Martin Elder

Another impact is the figure, which she discovered during a life-changing trip to Florence in 2001 that cemented Awad’s commitment to art and exposed her to classical art in a manner that continues to influence her painting today. It is from the seat of the Italian Renaissance and modernism where Awad’s female figure stems and which initially appeared as a singular subject, “coming from the male relationship to the female body as a muse.” Over the years, that has evolved into multiple figures and bodies in conversation with each other through colour.

By Myrna Ayad

10th November – 16th December, 2022

The Third Line – Dubai



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