‘Tethys’ by Nabil Nahas at Lawrie Shabibi Gallery Dubai

Lawrie Shabibi unveils the “Tethys” exhibition by Lebanese-American artist, Nabil Nahas, coinciding with the reopening of their gallery space. This exhibition, which runs from October 30 to January 5, 2024, offers viewers an immersive journey into a world of limitless color, texture, and creativity.

Nabil Nahas, Untitled, 2023, Acrylic on canvas, 250 x 200 cm (cropped) (NN126), Photo: Farzad Owrang

Nabil Nahas, drawing inspiration from his Mediterranean heritage, particularly his connections to Lebanon and Egypt, as well as his appreciation for the human spirit, explores these themes through the prism of color, texture, and the enigmatic wonders of nature. He draws from celestial and aquatic phenomena, crafting intricate paintings that evoke biomorphic and organic forms. Nahas’s artistic expression is anchored in abstract geometry and three-dimensional exploration, manipulating scale to beckon visitors into microcosmic realms within the canvas.

In this exhibition, Nabil Nahas presents a curated selection of his latest paintings. His artwork showcases vivid portrayals of cedars, olive trees, and palms, along with his evolving Fractal series.

Nabil Nahas, Untitled, 2023, Acrylic on canvas, 83.8 x 71.1 cm, Photo: Farzad Owrang

Within the Landscapes series, Nahas magnifies the presence of trees, with his cedars commanding attention with their towering forms, while his focus narrows to the rugged and irregular textures of olive trees and palms. The artist skillfully employs a spectrum of emotions, oscillating between vivid and somber hues, with gold symbolising the brightness of joyful memories and black conveying depth and weight, signifying somber memories. Four of his larger pieces express intense emotions connected to the tragic 4 August 2020 Beirut explosion, providing a cathartic outlet for the artist.

One distinctive technique used by Nahas in his Fractal paintings is the ‘encrusted’ method, creating a three-dimensional surface through the layering of textures and materials, mimicking geological formations and organic growth in the underwater world. Blues and greens evoke the ocean’s colors, while earthy tones and metallic accents simulate water’s shimmering and reflective qualities.

The title “Tethys” alludes to the history of the Tethys Sea, an enigmatic body of water that once stretched across the Mediterranean region, the Middle East, and parts of Asia, profoundly influencing the planet’s geological and biological evolution. In Greek mythology, Tethys, born of Uranus and Gaia, played a significant role as both the sister and spouse of the Titan Oceanus and as the mother to the river gods and the Oceanids.

Nabil Nahas, Untitled, 2023, Acrylic on canvas, 250 x 200 cm (cropped) Photo: Farzad Owrang

About Nabil Nahas

Nabil Nahas, born in Beirut in 1949, stands as Lebanon’s most celebrated artist, predating the current surge of interest in Middle Eastern contemporary art. He initially gained recognition in the New York art scene for his mastery of color, texture, and atmosphere. While grounded in Western abstract painting, Nahas draws inspiration from an array of sources, particularly nature and, at times, Islamic art with its abstract geometry and chromatic qualities. In July 2013, he received the National Order of the Cedar for his contributions to Lebanese culture. Presently, Nahas resides and creates in New York. His works are held in esteemed collections worldwide, including Tate Modern in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, the Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha, Qatar, and many others.

Location: Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai

Dates: 30 October 2023 – 5 January 2024

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