BEIRUT.- Ayyam Gallery Beirut
presents 'Urban Zoo', a solo exhibition of new paintings and sculpture by acclaimed Lebanese artist, writer and architect Nadim Karam.
Nadim Karam uses painting and sculpture to develop his characters and narratives, frequently returning to the symbol of 'The Cloud' to represent freedom and escape in a changing landscape. The artist is renowned for his public sculpture projects which he uses to humanise urban spaces. Karam encourages interaction with the public sculpture he creates; referring to them as Urban Toys, he invites people to consider the space around these surreal forms; to touch and climb them, and adopt them as part of the living cityscape.
On show at Ayyam Gallery Beirut are a series of crystal pieces, through which Karam further develops the ideas found in his large scale architectural interventions across the globe. Here they are scaled down to provide the viewer an intimate experience with an object, rather than encountering a structure in an expansive urban space. Domestic and functional buttons masquerade as precious stones in the jewelled 'Queen of Spades' (2013) and the iridescent monochrome 'The Cloud House' (2013). Karam tell stories through the brightly coloured, abstracted forms, borrowing from existing mythology and fairy tales.
Karam also presents a series of small scale stainless steel sculptures drawing from his vocabulary of recurring characters and symbols. The figures making up this series are shown in profile and formed from intricate lattice work, giving them a sense of lightness. 'Dream Girl' (2013) has wings in place of arms, lifting them to take flight; in 'Couple' (2013), two joyful figures run in unison, hands entwined; while 'Elephant' (2013) stands proud and unyielding. Forms embedded in the framework of these sculptures invite the viewer to uncover characters and narratives hidden within the larger structure.
Several new paintings by Karam are featured in the exhibition, including paintings based on the emblematic shape of the elephant, and exploring the themes of the Cultural Warrior and the Urban Zoo. A preview of several monumental new sculptures also are on show in the Piazza of Platinum Tower outside of the gallery for a period of the exhibition; these large-scale sculptures is a highlight of Karams forthcoming show at Ayyam Gallery Al Quoz opening in Dubai on 30 September 2013.
Born in 1957 in Senegal, Nadim Karam now lives and works in Beirut. In 1996, he established Atelier Hapsitus (www.hapsitus.com), a satellite grouping of young Lebanese architects and designers, that seeks to create an original urban vocabulary though large-scale art installation and architectural works for various cities worldwide. Karams work has appeared in numerous solo and group exhibitions worldwide, as well as biennales including Venice, Liverpool, and Gwangju. Previous solo exhibitions include: Ayyam Gallery London (2013); DIFC Gate, Dubai (2010); Sultan Gallery, Kuwait (2008); Al-Bustan, Lebanon (2006). Selected group shows include: Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris and Abu Dhabi (2013); Villa Empain Exhibition, Brussels (2012); Chatsworth House (2011), Royal College of Art, London (2011); Running Horse Contemporary Art Space, Lebanon (2011); Katzen Arts Centre, Washington (2010); American University Museum, Washington (2010); Ayyam Gallery Al Quoz, Dubai (2009); Liverpool Independent Art Biennale (2006).