Nadia Saikali

Nadia Saikali, NADIA.

Lebanese born, I grew up in a mul­ti­cul­tural family. Beirut my home town, stands out on the Mediterranean’s shore as the Crossroad of three mediter­ranean con­ti­nents: The Europeen, The Eastern, The African. Trilingual, I am not only Mediterranean but also European as well as Atlantic, having two sons Alan and Christopher Thomas, from my first love and mar­riage to their Welsh father, a geo­phys­ical enge­neer resting for ever peace­fully in Cyprus.
Franco-lebanese, my per­sonal cul­tural space includes globaly all the French speaking coun­tries, the Arab speaking coun­tries as well as the English speaking coun­tries and var­ious com­mu­ni­ties. My very early inter­ests in life were Geography and Geology. Astrophysics fas­ci­nate me, as well as the evo­lu­tion of mankind. I believe in the pos­i­tive aspects of Science which do not stand up against the spir­i­tual and intu­itive aspects of humans, thus driving them to find more ways for more knowl­edge. I have been very lucky to dis­cover a lot about the Ancient Civilisations, vis­iting arche­o­log­ical sites in the East, while studying about the sub­ject in History of Art books. Mythology appearing to me as part of Human Poetry.
In 1979, while the war went on in Lebanon, I moved to "The Bateau Lavoir" with my second hus­band Henri Gaboriaud grad­u­ated in inte­rior dec­o­ra­tion. A fresh new start in my life and works: sev­eral crayon studies, coloured inks and oils. This was fol­lowed up, and devel­oped through dif­ferent periods: "Geodermies" (geology-epi­dermic earth crust) "Archeodermies" (ref­er­ence to Archeology) "Empreintes- Autoportraits" (intro­spec­tion- Happening on canvas) "Empreintes- Eclatées" (poly­chrome spaces- Fall of Berlin’s Wall)
In 2000, "Espaces Intemporels" (Timeless Spaces of Peace). Too many people the­o­rize and politi­cize about one’s choice of colours in painting. This is not what I put for­ward in my works. After having focused my atten­tion on the four ele­ments men­tioned in the Genesis: Earth- Fire- Water- Air, I now feel like expressing freely my joy to be alive and at peace.
My main inter­ests are the pos­i­tive achieve­ments of human kind, knowing that every­thing is related, that death is a proven cer­ti­tude and that human wisdom has not yet been reached on Earth. Therefore I can claim out loudly that "Time for Peace has Come Now".

Jean-Jacques l’Evêque, Nadia Saikali.

It is not always true, this so-called deter­minism of places, and its direct action on life and the work of those who hang on to life. To live in the "Bateau Lavoir" and to paint, as does Saïkali,for example, is already a chal­lenge. It is even some­thing else entirely. Beginning with a total dis­tance from History of Art which fash­ioned there one of those "booby traps", after having sit­u­ated sev­eral of its most flam­boyant chap­ters.
Refering to those who here, after much misery, "found them­selves", is to be assured of a rep­u­ta­tion, but to gen­er­ally sink into purely com­mer­cial art.
Avoiding phan­toms, is to prove that one has known how to tame one’s own. Finding one’s own strengths rather than to drawing on other people’s. And then imi­tate them.This is how Saïkali is. From where, the vir­ginity of her aim. And, no doubt it’s appeal.
It does not sink down into the depths that psy­cho­anal­ysis has handed to us, and modern art,which is often a manner of speaking to one­self, rather than a manner of cre­ating a world leg­ible for all of us and where everyone can find him­self, making of art an eli­tist world. And very much coded.
Saïkali’s painting comes from no par­tic­ular place, no par­tic­ular time. Because it strives for the Universal,because it is time­less. Ambitious. Even more so that it throws itself into the chase after the great lan­guage of the uni­verse and of the time. Beyond the instan­ta­neous. It is born from the hand. It is the begin­ning of man’s affir­ma­tion. A con­scious iden­tity. In the shadow of con­science, life’s bab­blings order, this ges­ture inau­gu­rated cre­ativity to come.
Man’s begin­ning is this imprint of the hand-mirror. A bridge made towards the world. Because to make a mark on it, is to pos­sess it. Saïkali has this instinc­tive thirst. Even though to her, pos­ses­sion is not a suf­fi­cient motive. Unique, her act is one of assim­i­la­tion instead,or a dream-like reading of the world, in a gen­erous glob­ality. The hand is a symbol rather than an instru­ment. From it the world is born. It is a world. A game of the lines fol­lowing one another, in con­cert, before diverging, like trickles from a unique source. It is the hand-land­scape. From it other spaces will be born, a geog­raphy which also refers to the sea, to mag­netic fields: expres­sion of mys­te­rious, uni­versal forces. Also an idea of irre­vo­cable tran­quil forces is formed, oblit­er­ating the space of their growth. Occupation of space (is it not drawing’s very aim! ) and pen­e­tra­tion of matter are soon the two modes of per­cep­tion, of expres­sion, which she uses with equal skill. Because for her, painting has no descrip­tive voca­tion,but must find the tex­ture itself from which she seems to be self ema­na­tion, the secre­tion of time. At it’s own mea­sure. Slowly shaped by wear and tear,suc­ces­sive sed­i­men­ta­tions, an impreg­na­tion of suc­ces­sive acci­dental con­tri­bu­tions whose order is arrived at nat­u­rally. From there, her pas­sion for old illeg­ible scrawls. No matter then, the con­tents of their mes­sages, because it is in their illeg­i­bility that they attain this dimen­sion which makes them attrac­tive, con­fers to them this beauty which lasts at the con­di­tion of being under the sign of slow­ness, the specific expres­sion of this slownes that gen­er­ates har­mony.
To recreate that beauty, to imi­tate it, is part of the genious that someone else would put into realism, resem­blance, fan­tastic effect. Though here, it would be a specific kind of ressem­blance: that of matter itself. Dreaming of their past, grave with their riches, sober. Because no bril­liance will ever come here to dis­tort the posi­tion taken by Gaston Bachelard, with whom this work has great affinity. With no doubt Bachelard would have found fer­tile soil here for inves­ti­ga­tion.Matter there­fore, matter for what it is. A waiting land. Open matter. Live matter. History has dis­olved in it. From there the path of a simple abstracted land­scaped evo­ca­tion to this "archeo­dermis" which bar­barism is also an image of. Like lands exca­vated in order that we may dis­cover our past, our birth. A work of Saïkali is read for what it also hides. Especially light. One can see it springing up behind colour, as if sti­fled, pris­oner, ready to explode.
A force but also fervor, which does not dress up, does not parade about, with arro­gance, but con­tinues its course of action that one senses ardent, behind the scenes of the painting, in its depths, its roots. It is the shadows that one sees, appearing in the fore­ground, the way the earth’s crust covers the ardent inner fire which pop­ular imagery calls malefic energy: hell. But for Saïkali this occult light is not one of dis­order. She nour­ishes it with total fervor. In losing her­self in ges­tural sleep­walking, which in prin­ciple was erected in the prac­tice of con­tem­po­rary art, Saïkali does not how­ever lose the mas­tery of what makes her sub­ject essen­tial: a mate­ri­ology of ten­der­ness, of reflec­tion and order is born of the slow­ness which has presided over the var­ious layers and tex­tures of a kind of pic­to­rial epi­dermis.
A reflexive approach which sit­u­ates its pro­cess in the periph­eries of ori­ental art, and its tra­di­tion. From painting to painting a ter­ri­tory is estab­lished. Similar to no other, faithful to itself. In the logic of its prac­tice, of its aspects, where the graphic’s effect has dis­solved in matter, like cal­lig­raphy in colour. So well that,at the end of a pic­to­rial voyage under the sign of music,it is mur­muring mate­ri­ology that is offered to us. Ressembling grounds which are spaces for tracks, for ways through the mirror of time.

Joseph Tarrab, Enigma of Space - Mystery of Time.

Among the expe­ri­enced vet­erans of the lebanese painting, Nadia Saïkali is very soon dis­tin­guished for her cap­turing more rad­i­caly than others the spirit of her time. She throws her­self into mul­tiple inno­va­tions including kinetic arts. Without her ever stop­ping exper­i­menting, she aban­dons the geo­met­rical and chro­matic rigour of painting com­bining occi­dental and ori­ental absrac­tion, to adopt a more sub­jec­tive way closer to the body and soul. A path that fol­lows with time subtle periods and inter­pre­ta­tions related to her "hand­prints".
The recent oil paint­ings that Nadia Saïkali painted in Lebanon between 2000 and 2005, com­bine hap­pily a syn­thesis of "mental-land­scaping" and "soul-feeling", stable struc­tures, moving ele­ments, hor­i­zontal basis, diag­onal move­ments, solid stra­tums and liquid, layers. Shifting tec­tonic plates, sliding grounds, breaking waves allowed to be hemmed between limits defined by the static chro­matic upper and lower strips as if the tur­moil and the over­whelmed sur­face, the out­breaking events, the rising of long buried mem­o­ries, the his­tor­ical con­vul­sions dis­turbing lines, should remain con­fined within the short lasting period of the cen­tral area reg­is­tered between the long lasting periods of earth and sky. Lasting periods equaling Immobility.
On the ver­tical, the super­posed levels of the paint­ings repeat con­tin­u­ously from canvas to canvas this vision of human his­tory set into cosmic story by rapid diag­onal strokes some­times spread out or feverish some other time reflecting the change of mood by the dom­i­nant chro­matic tones varied and par­tic­ular to each canvas.
On the hor­i­zontal, the paint­ings appear like a "cut" in a moving strip for ever unwinding, a "stanstill" in the movie of time.
If with it’s earthly "plat­form" and it’s "entab­la­ture" the Space is ver­ti­caly lim­ited, being bound­less hor­i­zon­taly, Time is unlim­ited, sug­gesting that what is hap­pening out­side the canvas in both left and right direc­tions, the past and the futur, could be freely and indef­i­nitely pro­longed by imag­i­na­tion.

Nadia Saïkali’s paint­ings appear as a subtle and playful coun­ter­point between the enigma of space seem­ingly forsee­able, con­tro­lable, and the mys­tery of time unforsee­able, uncon­tro­lable able to come up at any moment with the best and the worst: evenings of hap­pi­ness and catas­trophic morn­ings, thus puting by wars, tsunamis, earthquakes, hur­ri­canes the Space to be worked upside down.

Under an aspect of pol­ished and sophis­ti­cated abstrac­tion, pri­mor­dial emo­tions are arroused, ready to be revealed if given just the nec­es­sary and suf­fi­cient atten­tion.

Gérard Xuriguera, Nadia Saikali.

The non-fig­u­ra­tive art should not be reduced to the cat­a­lyst sign that points out spon­tan­ious ges­turing, nor to be sub­mited and reduced to geo­metric laws. If besides, it brushes close to the organic, ingests dif­ferent mate­rials, embraces tech­no­log­ical curves, escapes into the com­plex­i­ties of writing or the mobility of the task, it allows itself some under­ground won­der­ings, secret shades obeying to gen­eral laws well away from what is imme­di­ately rep­re­sented responding mostly to an ethic and specific iden­tity beyond any direct clas­si­fi­ca­tion.
This sort of adjuste­ment is a par­tic­ular clas­si­fi­ca­tion of Nadia Saïkali’s way. In fact, without her joining rad­i­caly one of the sup­porting axis of abstract art, her work stands in the area where analo­gies melt into the metaphoric net­works of an iconic writing of pure sen­si­tive­ness, finely woven of mul­tiple gra­da­tions and numerous energies chan­neled by a reg­u­lating flood, reor­gan­ised by a subtle sub­struc­ture which defines its frame­work.
Lebanese born, N.Saïkali is highly attracted at first by Cezanne and the cubisme before com­mit­ting her­self in 1957 to non-objec­tive painting. In 1966 the dis­covery of serial and con­crete music leads her to a new per­cep­tion of space, linked to the dimen­tion of time. Deserting oil painting, she then real­ized col­lages, reliefs and lumino-kinetic vol­umes sparing and free, before her taking up again with tra­di­tional tech­niques and shaping up the style which fea­tures her to-day. For her now, each painting is a ges­ta­tion and a birth requiring bare­ness and silence. Nourished by rem­i­nis­cences sealed in the Middle-East, glo­ri­fied by the mediter­ranean light and tem­pered by the french mea­sure, emerges an art of europeen essence in spite of inevitable con­no­ta­tions. An art infinitely shaded, com­bining wrin­kled wefts and muf­feled breathing, strikes and stumped scum­bles, cuts and nar­rowed open­ings sta­bilised by ver­ti­cals inner­vated within the tex­ture’s flu­idity or as more recently, con­ceived by inter­de­pen­dant plans on dif­ferent levels on which have been added meta-signs and ideograms with strokes and gaps, a flowing and com­pact world, some­times severe and prickly, other­times brightly coloured, always har­mo­nious. If the use of won­dering ges­ture, intu­ition are here claimed for, by oppo­si­tion to con­struc­tion erected in dogma, it nev­er­the­less com­bines with the watchful con­trol of thought, spir­i­tual prac­tice teaming up with lyrism and archi­tec­tural, in a syn­thesis restricting haz­ardous games and erasing unwel­come nos­talgia.
The equa­tion painting-memory in other words, the link to real life, thus stands out in N. Saïkali’s works, emerging from human reality, a well thought chro­matic and graphic inter­pen­e­tra­tion of plaited mod­u­la­tions con­veying a semantic issued from the depths of con­scious­ness. Beyond words, what stands out from this approach, is obvious plea­sure to paint, to sug­gest emo­tions and feel­ings by using imper­cep­tible signs, along which roots, his­tory, mature expe­ri­ence, stand out­lined and for which to be fully under­stood, one has to achieve still­ness within.

Public and Private Collections:

1962 - Teheran - H.I.M. Farah Dhiba Pahlawi.
1967 - London - First prizewinner Carreras painting con­test: The Royal Institute Galleries
1968 - Beirut - First prizewinner Sursock Museum.
1969 - Bahrein - First National City Bank of New York.
1972 - Beirut - Society of Lebanon’s archi­tects and enge­neers: Lumino- kinetic work.
1972 - Beirut - The Chase Manhatan Bank of New York.
1975 - Cagnes s/mer France - Château Musée de Cagnes s/mer
1981 - Ryadh - Collection du Prinse Walid Bin Talal
1982 - Paris - National Fund of Contemporary Art.
1983 - Paris - The City of Paris’ col­lec­tion.
1984 - Paris - National Fund of Contemporary Art
1987 - Beit Mery - Lebanon - Nadia Tueni’s foun­da­tion
1995-2000-2003 - Beirut - A.L.B.A.’s Collection.
1996 - Beirut - Audi’s Bank foun­da­tion.
2001 - Beirut - Merryl Lynch Bank.

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