Abdulnasser Gharem is known for his thought provoking and strong sculptural work and stamp paintings. He has been a star in the region for some time and given his background as an officer in the Saudi Arabian army, his artwork is an important beacon especially surrounding issues of faith - where far too few voices of reason are heard.
Now his work is being recognised internationally and his first solo show in the US opened this week. Abdulnasser Gharem: Pause is curated by Linda Komaroff, Curator of Islamic art and Department Head of Art of the Middle East at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and includes 11 works of sculpture, stamp paintings, prints, and film.
Gharem’s new large-scale work Hemisphere (2017), is at the centre of the show. This work, his most recent in a series of dome sculptures, presents an amalgam of two distinct forms to create the cupola: a mosque dome and a late Islamic-style warrior’s helmet. The title of the work is intended to suggest two halves that form a whole, as in the human brain with its left and right hemispheres, the former governing logic and the latter creativity. In the sculpture, the right half is based on the distinctive green dome of the Mosque of the Prophet in Medina, Saudi Arabia. The left side of the sculpture is patterned on an Iranian helmet inscribed with verses from the Qur’an, dating to the 18th or 19th century, and probably intended for ceremonial and parade wear rather than for actual battle. The two halves are meant to allude to the dichotomy inherent in most faiths—a message of peace and supplication versus the types of political and sectarian concerns that sometimes lead to violence.
* Abdulnasser Gharem: Pause runs until July 2, LACMA. For more info visit: culturunners.com