The Language of Shapes and Colors

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Finding great beauty in the natural world and drawing from hawk-eyed interpretations of it, rather than skimming glances, bold and calculated simplicity, are all set in colorful glory. His subjects ranging from animals to humans take center stage in his paintings where they flow in a realm of defined space and exuberant colors.

“When I look at nature, I see it in my own way. Colors and shapes are a language,” he tells.

Hussein Madi, painter, sculptor and printmaker, is considered among the Arab world’s foremost artists.  Born in 1938 in Chebaa, Lebanon. Between 1973-1986, he lived between Rome and Beirut.  In 1986 he decided to stay permanently in Beirut. His art has been viewed by thousands of people around the world at such venues as the British Museums, the Venice Biennale and Tokyo’s Ueno Museum.

Alternately curved or angular, the Madi line unmistakably echoes the rhythmic and abstract spirit of Islamic art. The images are not by any means abstract, but their strength derives essentially from a structural foundation shaped by abstract considerations rooted in universal concepts. Madi’s joyful experiments in color and form have resulted in a unique body of work that relates to the principles of divine harmony. His belief that God created everything through careful calculation of the measures of scale, position, form and color and that every single unit in the universe is defined and repeated according to these four qualities, “he sees the evidence of God universal order, in which everything is different and yet composed of the same cosmic elements.”

Madi’s lines sing with a spontaneous freedom that belies the careful, even exacting, calculations that the artist invests in each work.  The combination of meticulousness and sensuality is everywhere evident in Madi’s work. The Italian critic Joseph Silvaggi wrote about Madi: “His drawings are filled with symbols and rich with artistic conventions in simplified forms; they are an enchanted script, a résumé of figurative art, the art of modern man.”

Hussein Madi makes use of the art of calligraphy, today consisting of symbols, which were originally pictograms. Madi tries to take these symbols back to the time when writing was half-picture, half-symbol, reconciling the real, represented by a partial image, with the symbolic, connected with the inner life of man. Between these two poles, he builds marvelous worlds, the realistic one, which binds man to the earth, and the symbolic one binding man to his conception of the world.

His paintings all have something in common. They are pieces, which are unique and baffling. As you look through the naked vision in the layers of his images the raw canvas transforms itself into a wild orchard of geometric shapes meandering in a sea of calculated vastness. His paintings are a beautiful dance with imagination, striking colors blending, mixing urgent thick and heavy strokes yet touching thinly veiled shapes. A lover of nature, his paintings are beauty in orderly disguise.


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