Ayyam Gallery Beirut is pleased to present Apertures, a collective exhibition that brings together diverse painters. Featuring the works of Asaad Arabi, Mouteea Murad, Oussama Diab, Kais Salman, and Tammam Azzam, this thematic show highlights works that, despite addressing a range of subject matter, use meticulous divisions of space, particularly openings or compartments, in order to describe the underlying psychology of hidden realms or laden spaces.
Seasoned painter Asaad Arabi returns to the geometric abstraction of his youth in Phonic Kaleidoscope (2014), a mosaic of colourful triangles that seem to gradually disappear into the background. This illusion of free-floating forms, which is created as the artist distributes various shades of grey between each shape, represents a spectrum of sound, with sonic formations visualised as interactions of shapes and colour. As the title of the work suggests, Arabi references how we encounter language, particularly the emotive intonations of speech patterns.
Geometric abstraction is used to represent physical space in Mouteea Murad’s Trial No. 121 (2016). In this Op art work, intersecting lines create a dynamic world that is partially obscured by an outer layer of white squares. The proportions used in these eight rows of quadrilaterals are based on the Fibonacci number sequence, and seem to grow in sequence across the canvas, alluding to the passage of time while establishing a sort of window that allows viewers to glimpse a secret world.
Intimate spaces are depicted in the works of Oussama Diab and Kais Salman, who frame grotesque figures in separate boxes. These compartments outline a series of portraits while creating a sense of claustrophobia. Diab’s Mirrors (2009) contains expressionist renderings of an androgynous character that is shown in various stages of grief and horror. Similarly Salman’s monstrous creatures reflect different moods—some are playful while others are more sinister, as the divisions of space that define the painting’s composition appear to trap them. Adding to this is the Salman’s dramatic rendering of light, which contrasts with moments of darkness.
Although heavily relying on abstraction, Tammam Azzam’s Stories series chronicles the destruction of Syria with layered compositions that create illusions to light and space while placing viewers among the ruins of the country’s devastated cities and towns. Between broad, expressionist brushstrokes are negative spaces formed as gaps emerge among piled debris. Behind the violence of collapsed buildings lie homes that were abandoned without warning—apertures that hold the stories of shattered lives.