COLUMBIA, SC.- The Columbia Museum of Art
organizes and presents the first retrospective exhibition of the art of Steven Naifeh. Found in Translation: The Art of Steven Naifeh opened on Friday, May 17 and remains on view through Sunday, September 1, 2013.
The 26 large-scale works of modern art reflect Naifehs personal taste, preferences and attitudes about geometric abstraction that developed over the span of 40 years. It is hardly surprising that Naifehs childhood in the Middle East educated his eye to the rigorous forms of Arab and Islamic art. The artist was born in Iran, the son of American diplomats. He spent his childhood in a succession of Foreign Service postings spread across three continents in the Islamic world. Enriched by his Lebanese heritage and his time living in the Islamic and Arab worlds, Naifeh has shown an extraordinary ability to integrate the influences of these distant and timeless cultures into the global culture of today. This exhibition inspires visitors with a deeper understanding of the art of the Middle East, Northern India, and Northern Africa. In his art, Naifeh achieves a synthesis of West and East as well as old and new, a blending of cultures recognized early on in the art he made here in America. His work represents universal harmony and attains this geometric symmetry beautifully with intellectual discipline, rigorous skill and authentic joy in the process of communication.
Found in Translation is destined to inspire our community and open doors to understanding cultures beyond our own. It shows visitors that what we share culturally is perhaps greater than what separates us. Abstract art is capable of expressing complex ideas like unity and continuity.
"We all need to understand more about the world in which we live, and Naifeh's exhibition is a smart, vibrant way of encountering Middle Eastern ideas," CMA Chief Curator, Will South, said.
Naifeh has exhibited work throughout the Islamic world including Abu Dhabi, Jordan, Pakistan and the Muslim cities of Kano and Kaduna in Nigeria. He studied art with the Nigerian artist Bruce Onobrakpeya. He also studied contemporary art with Sam Hunter, former curator of the Museum of Modern Art and the Jewish Museum, and he studied Islamic art with Oleg Grabar and Cary Welch.
With his co-author, Gregory White Smith, he has also written 18 books, including five New York Times bestsellers. Recently, they published the biography, Van Gogh: The Life, which was recently featured on CBS 60 Minutes. The book was featured on several best book lists for 2011 in The New York Times, The Economist, The Washington Post and was the Sunday Times of Londons Best Art Book of the Year. The CMA hosted Naifeh for a lecture and book signing in January 2012.