Abdulnasser Gharem: Pause - LACMA

16 Apr 2017 - 02 Jul 2017


Abdulnasser Gharem: Pause at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) marked the first solo presentation by the artist in the U.S. The exhibition was curated by Linda Komaroff, Curator of Islamic Art and Department Head of Art of the Middle East at LACMA, and included 11 remarkable works of sculpture, stamp paintings, prints, and film — all of which were created in the aftermath of the tragic events of September 11, 2001. For Gharem, seeing the World Trade Center destroyed on television was a horrific moment that  seemed to make the world standstill, or pause; he learned soon after that two of the  hijackers were former classmates. The fact that Gharem is a Muslim, an Arab, and a  lieutenant colonel in the Saudi Arabian army provided added resonance for an American audience, while serving as a reminder that terrorism is experienced on a global scale.

Gharem deeply absorbs the notion of pause into his work as an occasion to examine certain universal dichotomies that lead one to choosing his or her path in life. More literally, he has used the digital symbol for pause — a pair of solid rectangles — as a visual metaphor for the Twin Towers, which can be observed in the diptych Pause (2016), featured in the exhibition. Although the mediums and platforms for his work clearly borrow from the mainstreams of modern art, the narratives and images are drawn from the artist’s everyday world while many of his motifs, including geometric designs and floral arabesques, belong to the canon of Islamic art.

“Abdulnasser Gharem belongs to a pioneering generation in Saudi Arabia that has introduced a local arts community to the global discourse. Gharem is at the forefront of this movement, creating art in a range of mediums and techniques largely outside the traditions of painting, drawing, photography, and sculpture,” says Komaroff.

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About King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture

King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, known as ithra, is a one-of-a-kind institution that brings together multiple offerings under one roof. From arts and culture to science and innovation, this bold initiative by Saudi Aramco promises a continuous journey of enrichment designed to energize the next knowledge economy of Saudi Arabia.

ithra aims to make a positive and tangible impact on the cultural scene by focusing on building local talents in the knowledge and creative industries. Blending iconic architectural design with advanced technology, and unique learning methods with enriching programs, ithra is an infinitely inspiring platform for explorers, learners, creators, and leaders–a thriving hub of knowledge, creativity and cross-cultural engagement.

As the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia strives to achieve its ambitious national development goals to transition to a knowledge-based economy, ithra acts as a bridge connecting cultures and cultivating a creative and innovative community.


Since its inception in 1965, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has been devoted to collecting works of art that span both history and geography, in addition to representing Los Angeles's uniquely diverse population. Today LACMA is the largest art museum in the western United States, with a collection that includes more than 130,000 objects dating from antiquity to the present, encompassing the geographic world and nearly the entire history of art. Among the museum’s strengths are its holdings of Asian art; Latin American art, ranging from masterpieces from the Ancient Americas to works by leading modern and contemporary artists; and Islamic art, of which LACMA hosts one of the most significant collections in the world. A museum of international stature as well as a vital part of Southern California, LACMA shares its vast collections through exhibitions, public programs, and research facilities that attract over one million visitors annually, in addition to serving millions through digital initiatives such as online collections, scholarly catalogues, and interactive engagement. LACMA is located in Hancock Park, 30 acres situated at the center of Los Angeles, which also contains the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum and the forthcoming Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. Situated halfway between the ocean and downtown, LACMA is at the heart of Los Angeles.

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