Abdulnasser Gharem: Pause

“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.


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.


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