Vanessa Bell Abstract Painting circa 1914 Oil on canvas

Vanessa Bell was one of the first British artists to experiment with abstraction. In the early 1910s her painting was radicalised by her encounter with works by artists such as Cézanne, Gauguin, Picasso and Matisse. ‘Here was a possible path’, she wrote, ‘a sudden liberation and encouragement to feel for oneself, which were absolutely overwhelming.’

Lebanese artist Saloua Raouda Choucair’s approach to western abstraction is enriched and complicated by her knowledge of Islamic aesthetics, and by the influence of mathematics and science. Since the mid-1950s Choucair has worked mainly with sculpture, producing several series of modular forms. Works such as Poem Wall are often made up of interlocking pieces. Choucair explores the way in which component pieces relate to the whole, mirroring the structures of Sufi poetry.


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