Tamara al Samerraei Layers of Reading at Marfa’ Gallery

Nélida Nassar   02.24.2016

Marfa’a gallery the latest new comer to the Lebanese contemporary art scene is hosting its third show Let me Stay a Little Longer by Lebanese-Kuwaiti born art graduate and resident of Beirut, artist Tamara al Samerraei.

Surveyed into eleven canvas and nine drawings or works on paper, her exhibition is perfectly poised between abstraction and landscape. Working with a flexible vocabulary of (photographs, images appropriated from the internet, oil and collage), she produces paintings and drawings whose taut visual clarity is the result of meticulously weaving together contrasting pieces of painted, cut out, transfer, raw canvas or pentimento.

Al Samerraei’s shapes are usually scavenged, suggesting that reality is rife with potential abstraction. Al Samerraei’s control of pictorial space is precise yet illustratively magical. A especially strong black and white collage of trees, a diptych work (Wallpaper, 2015) with touches in red, blue and yellow – for the eyes and crouched body details – magnifies a pattern reminiscent of modernist Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Secession) fabric work.

Her drawings experimentation in particular with the body and sex are arresting, they bow to some to Egon Schiele’s figurative imagery. Her fearlessness is the through line, starting with 
two body abstractions whose muscular forms and brusque drawing-handling are reinforced by dark, radiant colors muting into a landscape were the reading is equally ambiguous (Flesh and Green 1 and 2, 2014). Next come images of coupling bodies loosely painted in bright colors, (Chair, 2015). But most pioneering are those images that eliminate the outside observer, portraying the artist’s reclining body, alone or with a partner (Night Crawling 1 and 2, 2015; Red Green Buttons, 2014, Shore Diptych, 2014 or Bed, 2014) from her own point of view, which also becomes ours. Exhibited in such a stark white space the pieces achieve maximum visibility and reveal an astonishing variety while raising numerous questions of excess, seduction and moral exploitation.

Tamara al Samerraei 
December 17, 2015 – February 27, 2016
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday noon – 7.00 pm

1339 Marfa’ District
Beirut, Lebanon
Phone: + 961 1 571 636