Paul Guiragossian (Lebanese, 1926-1993)
Lots are subject to 5% import Duty on the importat… Read more
Samia Halaby (Palestinian, b. 1937)

White Spiral

Samia Halaby (Palestinian, b. 1937)
White Spiral
acrylic on canvas
65¾ x 65¾in. (167 x 167cm.)
Painted in 1970
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner.
S. Halaby, Samia Halaby, Beirut 2006 (illustrated in colour, p. 29).
Ayyam Gallery (ed.), Samia Halaby: Five Decades of Painting and Innovation, Damascus 2010 (illustrated in colour, p. 60).
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Lot Essay

White Spiral was painted during a formative period of the artist's early development, and demonstrates several of the significant breakthroughs that allowed Halaby to arrive at an approach to depicting reality, particularly properties found in nature, through abstraction. Shortly before creating the painting, the artist had investigated the fundamentals of figuration, specifically the use of illusionism to indicate volume in space. Through a series of 'geometric still lifes,' paintings that depict three-dimensional models under various light sources in order to understand the significance of edges when employing traditional pictorial perspective, Halaby discovered that colour and shading could create a sense of depth. Encouraged by the outcome of her experiments, she began to isolate her objects, dissecting them internally from a central point in order to further explore the dimensionality that could be created with colour. Through a series of cylinder still lifes, she concluded that surface colour of volume affects the illusion of depth.

With these findings, Halaby abandoned the use of three-dimensional objects as starting points for compositions, and instead began to plot paintings on graph paper before executing them on canvas, such as in White Spiral. This allowed for a different approach to depicting volume and eventually led to the artist's investigation of the implied movement of Islamic art and architecture and Arabic calligraphy, in which infinite space and time are communicated through a repetition of forms and rhythmic lines. White Spiral is the last available of the seminal series of three paintings that includes the artist's masterpieces Third Spiral (1970) and Yellow Spiral (1970) and reflects the culmination of the first major period of experimentation of her career.

(Maymanah Farhat, 2014).

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