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Saloua Raouda Choucair, Tate Modern

September 26, 2013

ArtsPaintingSculpture | by Maxine Kirsty Sapsford


Saloua Raouda Choucair, Self Portrait, 1943 © Saloua Raouda Choucair Foundation
Saloua Raouda Choucair, Self Portrait, 1943 © Saloua Raouda Choucair Foundation

Choucair has been painting and sculpting for over six decades, pulling inspiration from both global influences and her islamic roots. Now a major success in Beirut where she was born in 1916, Choucair’s acclaim in the western world is long overdue as only now in her 90’s is she being recognised for her life’s work. So it’s not surprising that her show at Tate Modern is comprised of over 120 works that for the most part have been previously unseen here in London.

 

Saloua Raouda Choucair, Poem, 1963-5 © Saloua Raouda Choucair Foundation
Saloua Raouda Choucair, Poem, 1963-5 © Saloua Raouda Choucair Foundation

Although she has always been clear in her artistic path and insatiable in her drive to create, Choucair’s career as an artist was hindered by civil war. This is marked in the exhibition by the hanging of one of her modular abstract paintings which was irreversibly damaged by shards of glass that tore holes through it during a bombing raid in the 1980s. Despite the civil war Choucair was always inspired to continue her work, global advances in technology, architecture and science all influenced her creative process. She was forever looking forward and outward, excited by change. Choucair was once told that her work had European influences, Choucair corrected the critic saying that ‘No it is a universal influence’.

 

The exhibition starts with her playful paintings of women drinking tea, with their bold, simplified, Matisse-like lines and colours, painted during her time spent studying in Paris in the late 1940’s – early 1950s. The show then takes us through her abstract paintings where she explored shape and colour in it’s pure form and continues on to the main body of Choucair’s work – her sculptures. These pieces although also abstracts, have a human feel to them, their individual parts wrap around each other, fitting together like individuals wrapped in conversation. Choucair’s daughter said of her mother that ‘her soul was completely into forms and shapes’ and this relationship with form and shape, spanning over 60 years, can be seen in every piece in the Saloua Raouda Choucair exhibition.

 

Saloua Raouda Choucair, continues at the Tate Modern until the 17th November. For information and tickets go to – http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/saloua-raouda-choucair

 

Words Kirsty Sapsford, Junior Arts Editor