It wasn’t the first time I attend an exhibition by Lebanese artist Nadim Karam, but certainly was the first time I see his paintings… As always, Karam exceeded my expectations.
When Ayyam Gallery announced Karam’s solo exhibition ‘Shooting the Cloud’ to be the celebrating launch of Ayyam Gallery in London last January, it noted the show will include…
new paintings, rich in colour and presenting a playful, almost satirical, perception of love and war.”
I got excited, booked a ticket and flew to London! I didn’t know what to expect, as Karam is famous for his joyful contemporary sculptures and momentum projects that are definitely not another ‘Art Deco’ piece but rather an intellectual triggering art. I wondered “What will Nadim Karam paintings add?!”
Yes! The crowd at the opening was huge, I knew I have to come another day to take a proper look at the artworks. ‘Shooting the Cloud’ feature five steel sculptures and nine large paintings reflects influence of dynamic changes, sudden happenings and unpredictable state of one’s heart.
One word describes Karam’s works whether it’s an engraved, shinny, stainless steel ‘Flying Elephant’ or a girl holding a boy’s hand in what seems like they are about to fly, or a boy sitting on cloud and fishing or a painting of ‘Boy Carrying Elephant’; his works are vivacious!
Elements of Fun & Surprise
One of the common things between Karam’s sculptures and paintings is they both are joyful; allowing an imagination of a child lead the way. This element reflected the exhibited artworks as a unified piece; yet each detail has its independency… They all seemed linked to one another.
Don’t be fooled by the glitter & shine Nadim Karam’s artworks because as I said his art is ‘triggering’. Karam creates what I like to call ‘perfect-picture’ of a situation, putting all its good & bad aspects in a cheerful work. You will find bullets, rockets, balloons and flowers, war vs. peace! In the end, you stand in front a ‘happy’ artwork that invites you to take a closer look on ‘shocking’ details…
Can One Picture a ‘Happy War’?
You ask yourself “why so happy about destruction?” why the bursting bright colors? Shimmer? Roses? Bombs perhaps?! A Chair – symbol of leadership & glory – sounded with pink, blue, green and orange dots which form an illusion aura to the person sitting on chair. A boy playing with tanks, rockets as well as a saxophone!
Yes someone – or more! – can be extremely happy about destruction and corruption, they can benefit a lot from the chaos and at the same time make it seem promising to others.
Yet there is a sense of optimisim in Karam’s art, in fact a lot of it! The beautiful thing about his work – I personally love – it is innocent; as if the artist calls the child within to enjoy the art. We all grow up, few remember the kid he or she once were; may be if we let it out sometime we will avoid hate and live with inner peace… perhaps?!
About Nadim Karam
Born in 1957 in Senegal, Nadim Karam now lives and works in Beirut. In 1996, he established Atelier Hapsitus, a satellite grouping of young Lebanese architects and designers, that seeks to create an original urban vocabulary though large-scale art installation and architectural works for various cities worldwide. Karam’s work has appeared in numerous solo and group exhibitions worldwide, as well as biennales including Venice, Liverpool, and Gwangju. His sculptural series, Closets & Closets, is currently on display at the Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris. Past publications include The Cloud, The Desert and The Arabian Breeze (2007); Urban Toys, (2006) and Voyage (2000). A forthcoming monograph will be published by Skira in 2013.
‘Shooting the Cloud’ is running until March 9, 2013 at Ayyam Gallery London.