From July 27, 2020 to September 25, 2020

Galerie Tanit, Mar Mikhael, Beirut, Lebanon

Abed Al Kadiri, Remains of the Last Red Rose, 2020, Installation Shot

If the world is a dark place, Lebanon is its epicenter.

Obscurity is AlKadiri’s medium. Driven by insomnia, anxiety, and disorientation during the six months of the series’ creation, he came to relish not just black, but its transformative promise of oblivion. Disturbed waking states propelled the artist to engulf the previous day’s painting in impulsive swathes of black paint, at once obliterating and eternalizing the raw charcoal-sketched figures and the writhing colors beneath. Indomitable, though, the teeming colors dance through the charred-black surface; the figures hover, spectral yet resolute. In “Family Portrait” (2018), for example, the final work in the Nyctophilia journey, a parent-child triangle is cloaked almost entirely in black, save a patch of white swaddling the youngster. At once absent and present, the image of the family challenges its own unity, the shaky contours blurring the certitude of this presumably natural unit. The very concept of family, the work implies, is illusive. 

Through darkness, Nyctophilia evokes enlightenment. Dark is an excess of light. A jolt of colors blinds us: instantly, we see only black. “In this ode to a such a charged hue—so wound up in constructing identity—I let black grasp all the colors,” explains AlKadiri. “I wanted to give it a new meaning: one of clarity. It cuts to the essence of things and feelings.” In spite of this, Nyctophilia revels in a state of incompletion: like an insomniac’s sleep, the works are unsettled, tentative. Scrawled, scratched figures traipse across fields riddled by gaping blanks. Finely finished details cohabit alongside abrupt shorthand strokes: raw sketch marks poke out between sharp fronds of black; a muddled sky floats between a perfect frame of shadowy trees. Achievement is impossible; completion is a lie. In Nychtophilia, even black is never certain.


Abed Al Kadiri