Audio: Samia Halaby, Seventh Cross No. 229
Samia Halaby (Lebanese, b. 1937)
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Samia Halaby (Palestinian, b. 1937)

Seventh Cross No. 229

Samia Halaby (Palestinian, b. 1937)
Seventh Cross No. 229
signed, dated and numbered 'SAMIA.A.HALABY APRIL 6-19-1969. N0 229' (along the upper right edge); signed, dated and numbered 'NO 229 April 1969 S.HALABY' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
48 x 48in. (122 x 122cm.)
Painted in 1969
Phyllis Kind gallery, Chicago.
Corporate collection, U.S.A.
Anon. sale, JMW Auction Gallery New York, 19 May 2012, lot 152.
Acquired at the above by the present owner.
Ayyam gallery (ed.), Samia Halaby Five decades of painting and innovation, Damascus 2010 (illustrated in colour, p.48).
Special notice
Lots are subject to 5% import Duty on the importation value (low estimate) levied at the time of collection shipment within UAE. For UAE buyers, please note that duty is paid at origin (Dubai) and not in the importing country. As such, duty paid in Dubai is treated as final duty payment. It is the buyer's responsibility to ascertain and pay all taxes due.
Sale room notice
Please note that the artist is Palestinian, and not as stated in the printed catalogue.

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Lot Essay

'My paintings are abstract because I respect most the revolutionary artists of the 20th century. The artists of Cubism, Futurism, Suprematism, Constructivism, the Mexican muralists and the Abstract Expressionism are the best of the past century. I want to follow them and continue on the path they began. Programming kinetic painting on computer and producing a video of moving abstractions with sound is a result of taking this path.'
(Samia Halaby)
The present work, entitled Seventh Cross was painted in the late 1960s, at a time when Halaby was influenced by constructivism, interested in geometrical abstractions and in the potential of using these to produce striking visual images. It was then that the young artist began to blossom. The basic elements were cubes, spheres, cones, horizontal and vertical parallel lines; the kind of elements observed on Palestinian embroidered dresses and geometrical Islamic motifs found in tiles and arabesque art. By drawing lines at varying distances from one another, by introducing undulations and changing the tones, Halaby achieved a very intriguing depth and played with visual illusion.

In her own words: 'Seventh Cross was painted early in 1969 as part of a series that I considered my first serious effort as an artist who had freed herself from her education. The original inspiration for the series was a painting by Petrus Christus at the Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art (now known as the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art) in Kansas City. Few will immediately realize that the painting is in fact a still life painting. I was exploring cylinders and decided to intersect two to create a cross. The anecdotal symbolism of a cross was not my goal. I cut cardboard cylinders to intersect, then I cut black paper to cover the cross. Finding the curve to cut on a flat sheet of paper in order to cover the intersection of the cylinders was a fascinating geometric exercise. I cut out a square window in a flat sheet of cardboard and attached it to the crossed cylinders. The whole was then illuminated with warm light from behind; while from the front I used a weak blue light. While the window into the still life is not included in the painting, it makes its presence visible by casting elliptical shadows on the cylinders forming the cross. I then painted the still life with a precisionist attitude that disregarded surface imperfections.'

Samia Halaby is known for her study of the physics of light and her knowledge of pigments and colour mixing. The subtle change of colour which occurs as shading graduates from direct light to shadow and finally to reflected light is masterful. With her striking composition of three dimensional effects and rich visual illusions, she is spectacular in the context of the contemporary Arab art movement. Halaby's scientific attitude eventually led her in the mid-1980s to take on the challenge of adding computer technology to modern painting. The result was a program called Kinetic Painting which she wrote and used to create moving abstract paintings with sound. Halaby lives and works in New York.

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