Buthayna Ali, "We", 2006.
Himat Ali, "Untitled" (series), 1995.
Rafa' al Nasiri, "Untitled", 1995.
Etel Adnan, "The View from Sausalito", 1997.
Mohammad el Baz, "Imaginons ...", 2010.
James Webb, "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out", 2010.
The Power of Words
Artists from the Khalid Shoman Collection

20 November 2012 – February 2013

The use of text and lettering as an artistic tool has been one of the key developments in visual art in the last century. Instrumental in shaping modernism in a Western context, in the Arab world its history is also directly intertwined with the deep-rooted traditions of poetry and calligraphy.

Words have appeared in paintings since classical times, mostly to identify the artist or the figures depicted, but from the early twentieth century artists began using language for very different reasons. From the Cubists adding seemingly random words to their collages, to the poet-painters of Dada and Surrealism posing playful puzzles, asking for symbolic interpretation, or contributing to a composition as if they are abstract forms, to Pop-artists embracing popular cultural signs, over time the use of language gained ground in a number of artists' work. Eventually, with the development of Conceptual Art in the late 1960s, language even became the matter or object of the artwork itself, pushing the boundaries of what constitutes art. The possibilities of text appealed to younger generations of artists, and the uses to which visual artists put words have become increasingly diverse.

The works presented from the Khalid Shoman Private Collection are by artists from different generations whose works have in common that they in one way or another incorporate scripture. These artists work in a wide variety of media, ranging from oil on canvas, print, and pottery, to video, installation, neon, and sound. Amid the works on display is also a collection of artist's books. Using language for different purposes, whether that is to expose an aesthetic relationship between text and image (Koraïchi, Adnan, Wijdan), to create paradoxical layers of meaning (Hatoum), or to explore its use as a socio-political instrument (Abidin, Ali, El Baz), these artists show the endless possibilities that language offers as both a visual and conceptual tool.

Featuring: Adel Abidin, Etel Adnan, Buthayna Ali, Himat Ali, Jehad Ameri, Aziz Amoura, Ziad Dalloul, Mohammed el Baz, Samia Halaby, Mona Hatoum, Ali Jabri, Rachid Koraïchi, Khalid Khreis, Rafa' al Nasiri, Shaker Hassan al Said, Salah Saouli, Mona Saudi, Leila al Shawa, Vladimir Tamari, James Webb, Wijdan.