Kristen Lorello opens a solo exhibition of drawings and paintings on paper by Nadia Haji Omar

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Kristen Lorello opens a solo exhibition of drawings and paintings on paper by Nadia Haji Omar
Installation photography: Charles Benton.

NEW YORK, NY.- The gallery opened a solo exhibition of drawings and paintings on paper by Nadia Haji Omar. This is the artist's fourth solo exhibition at the gallery and the first dedicated exclusively to her works on paper. The exhibition will include twenty-six intimately scaled works made from 2017 to 2022. They reveal Haji Omar's ongoing thematic concerns, such as the flexibility and malleability of language, geography and mapping, as well as the development of a distinctive pattern-based abstract idiom. The artist derives inspiration from a range of sources that include architectural and decorative elements of traditional Islamic art, studies of language and scripts, textile design, observations of plants and flowers, and bodies of water in their various forms.

Haji Omar's drawings are intricate and devoted compositions rendered with small repeated marks that formulate immersive, meditative patterns. With the concept of language in mind, she often structures repeated elements into shapes that resemble individual characters of a script. Writing may appear asemic, with no particular meaning. Other times it depicts particular linguistic characters, such as those in the Sinhalese and Tamil alphabets, the languages of Sri Lanka where the artist spent her childhood. In several works a central cluster or single character-like form emerges from an all-over pattern, delineated through a shift in color or directional stroke. Haji Omar's deft use of graphite, acrylic, and ink within tiny, interlocking elements reveals the dexterity and control of her hand. She juxtaposes these tighter marks with diluted mediums such as watercolor and acrylic washes that lend an amorphous, fluid sense.

Experimental materials such as crushed shells and wax also play upon the relief quality in her compositions. They create dimensional shifts and incorporate light into the surface. Other elements introduce specific aspects of environment into abstract visual fields. These include flowers, leaves, plants, hearts, and simplified shapes. Repeated shapes drawn in the form of an eye at times suggest embroidery or weaving. Entirely rendered by hand, Haji Omar's complex patterns seem to travel along the surface, suggesting movement and a playful sense.

Known primarily for her paintings on canvas and panel, for the artist drawing has always played a constant, diaristic role. While sometimes her drawings on paper visualize compositions intended for larger paintings, the paintings also provide inspiration for smaller drawings. It is a medium that allows her a great amount of freedom and flexibility. As the artist notes, "It is an area that allows for further experimentation and lightheartedness. The steadiness and stability it has provided makes me feel an unbreakable bond and dedication to this practice."

Nadia Haji Omar was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1985 and lives and works in Warren, Rhode Island. She received a Bachelor of Arts from Bard College in 2007 and a MFA from the School of Visual Arts in 2014. Haji Omar has had solo exhibitions at Providence College Galleries, the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, Kristen Lorello, and Bard College, among other venues, and has been included in group exhibitions at The Center for Contemporary Art, Bedminster, NJ, the Katonah Museum of Art, Katonah, NY, Bronx Art Space, and Deli Gallery, among other venues. Her works are included in the collections of the RISD Museum, Providence, RI, Hallmark Art Collection, Kansas City, MO, Providence College Galleries and Collections, Providence, RI, Capital Group, Los Angeles, CA, and Art in Embassies, US Department of State, Permanent Collection, US Embassy, Colombo, Sri Lanka, among others. Her exhibitions have been reviewed in Hyperallergic (Yau) and New York Magazine (Saltz) among other publications.

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