BEIRUT

Culture

When there is more to a point than a dot

BEIRUT: Geometry adepts will tell you that a point isn’t a thing but a place, represented by a dot. In his writings, Russian painter and art theorist Wassily Kandinsky explained that a point should not be seen as something giving a direction but more as a form on a basic plane that can take on different meanings. It is with this approach that Lebanese artist Rami Chahine (aka “Le Mauve”) has produced a large series of mixed-media works, now on show at Karantina’s Art Lounge.

The pieces in his solo exhibition “Point, Imprint to Plane,” take Chahine’s views on how best to deploy geometry’s most basic form and make it corporal – using cardboard, burlap, mosquito netting, wood crates and plastic.

The point, Chahine told The Daily Star, “is a trace, an imprint of the past, opened to a [certain] evolution.”

Wandering into this show, members of the public may think they are looking at simple blotches of color on various media, but Chahine’s point, as it were, is to transcend such notions.

Several of strips of mosquito netting are hung from the space’s ceiling, forming artworks that move and change depending on the light or the angle of perception and, indeed, whatever draughts happen to be blowing through the gallery.

Depending on the viewer’s perspective, and perhaps the viewer’s mood, various images seem to appear in a single work – from faces to animals to landscapes.

“The point,” Chahine elaborated, “is an elementary particle.”

Five other works adorning the walls suggest something of what the artist has in mind. In one piece, multicolored squares of various sizes are mingled, as though the onlooker were gazing upon a piece of digital art. Here too, if you gaze long enough faces form, like optical illusions.

Chahine didn’t have any particular idea in mind when creating this work, he explained. Everything came naturally, point by point, step by step.

Some informed viewers may find elements of contemporary pointillism in Chahine’s pieces. Pointillism is a technique in which the painter arrays dots on the canvas as a means to figuration – whether a portrait or a landscape – a practice that anticipated pixilation.

For his part, the artist would prefer that his art not be viewed in these terms. He says the point moved him to form whatever came to his mind.

Points also have a literary utility – being used as punctuation marks at the end of declarative sentences, signifyingthe end a position statement or an argument.

Chahine has used the point to commence an artistic statement. Had he used lines rather than points, the form would have given his works a specific direction to which he would have been obliged to conform. In the artist’s view, points have given him the liberty to take his work in any direction, to stop or resume whatever idea or image forms in his brain.

The media on which he paints are quite rudimentary, somehow suggesting that the object he makes are less central that the perspective imbued into the works.

Points also have literary utility, as the punctuation marks used to end a position statement, an argument, or a sentence, like this.

Rami Chahine’s “Point, Imprint to Plane” is up at Art Lounge until April 20. For info, please visit www.artlounge.com.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 07, 2014, on page 16.

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Summary

Geometry adepts will tell you that a point isn't a thing but a place, represented by a dot.

It is with this approach that Lebanese artist Rami Chahine (aka "Le Mauve") has produced a large series of mixed-media works, now on show at Karantina's Art Lounge.

The point, Chahine told The Daily Star, "is a trace, an imprint of the past, opened to a [certain] evolution".

Wandering into this show, members of the public may think they are looking at simple blotches of color on various media, but Chahine's point, as it were, is to transcend such notions.

Chahine didn't have any particular idea in mind when creating this work, he explained.

Chahine has used the point to commence an artistic statement.


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