Samia Halaby

Palestine 1936. Lives and works in New York.

"In all my paintings during the early 90s there is a thin line that I travel between two possible directions of failure. There is always the danger in a brushy, painterly work that landscape syntax will take over. Horizontal movements or a bit of light above the dark below will turn the whole into a landscape where any group of marks can become a field or a tree. Another direction of failure is more particular to me. I easily form geometric shapes with my brush marks and that takes me to old organizational habits. In the middle there is a narrow path which I seek to widen. In it I find the rhythms of soft things in nature. These are organizations composed of large numbers of smaller elements such as huge crowds of people, foliage, wave motion in water or fields of grass, herds, flocks, and other such things. Their complex geometry is dazzling.

I want to extract something from this geometry of quantities of things in motion. This is where my painterly abstraction resides. I have also long thought about how we focus our eyes from one location to another so that we might comprehend our surrounding. These signals are transformed into more or less visible marks around the surface of the painting guiding the viewer's eye with intentional strategies."

- Excerpt from 'Painterly Abstraction: 1991-2000', by Maymanah Farhat
Samia Halaby, Five Decades of Painting and Innovation, published by Ayyam Gallery, 2010