February 18 2020
“Shade is life, is a sign of movement and existence,” says Hazem Harb. Shadows of the past and the present appear in the conceptual works of Palestinian- Italian artist, Hazem Harb (b. 1980). The emotional content of his historical and sociological subject matter is revealed through meticulously constructed compositions. In his archival works, sculptural images and sculptural installations, Harb questions traumatic experiences that shape societies through war and loss.
In Beyond Memories (2012), he adapts found images, arranges them into collage, and incorporates color fields to invoke the emotional qualities of the subject matter. His TAG Series (2015) frames faces of people to metaphorically rescue them from oblivion. Harb’s works presented in the book and exhibition Common Grounds (2015), and his series Al Baseera (2012), call into question possible modes of perception of his work through multilayered and boundary-based forms.
The large-scale works of Al Baseera reference geometric forms of Islamic origin. Inspired by the Arabic word “bazaar,” which combines the dual meanings of “seeing” and “seeing through something,” Harb questions viewing and perception habits.
This brings him to combine unframed canvases with other canvases of different formats to construct three-dimensional objects. Using the architecture of his sculptural canvases, he then abstracts motifs of Islamic geometry with paint by confronting their basic forms with one another. Boundary lines, and clashing yet harmonious color fields dominate the compositions, with the color black becoming increasingly significant. The contrast between the flattening effect of the black areas and the three-dimensionality of the constructed canvases turn the painting into a “sculptural image.”
Though Harb reveals the works’ concepts directly through his titles, he believes it is the audience who complements the work in the way they perceive it. The sculptural construction, variety of color combinations, and abstraction of geometric forms force the viewer to reconsider his or her personal viewing perspective and behavior. The viewer is suspended in a contemplation of the work; a transcendental state.