This sculpture of an elephant by Nadim Karam is a miniature Urban Toy, a concept that dates back in Karam's body of work since the very beginning with his creations of urban-scale giant toys for cities all over the world to play with. Nadim Karam (architect, artist and urban designer) contemplates cities like the human beings who inhabit them, as living organisms with buried dreams and memories, whose very survival depends on the energy and goodwill of its inhabitants.
He says "Cities need to dream. They were built up slowly on thousands of small dreams. Somewhere, cities should still dream. In a world full of wonders and dangers, every moment is a marvelous, magical survival.We should produce dream bombs while the world is threatened with terrorist bombs. Dream bombs are planned for years in advance, probably requiring as much energy, financial backing, organization and know-how as the terrorist kind. They might fail to happen, but when they do, their vitality permeates the city."
Born in Africa, growing up in Lebanon and studying in Japan, Nadim Karam is a metropolitan citizen who started creating stories for cities with his urban toys; unique installations that mingle stories of history with culture and fantasy, dynamising and invigorating urban spaces and giving them tools for magical survival. His incubator atelier studio named 'Hapsitus' which he established in 1996 in Beirut, Lebanon derives from the combination of two words; 'Happening' and situation', which defines for him the invisible order of an 'urban happening'. 'Hapsitus' became a vehicle for his work, producing numerous manifestations where he blends architecture, art and design in cities or large scale public parks, commissioned to produce large scale works in Dubai, Australia and Japan, among other places.
Karam's urban sculptures are anti-monuments; they are diffusers of energy, creating fantasy, triggering dreams and smiles. They are elements that incite the viewer to stop, to ask and to react. And in this world of globalization saturated with stereotypes, they are visual reminders of free thought.
Amongst the many motifs that he creates, Nadim Karam endlessly revisits the Elephant, perhaps because of its totality, its grand surface area, combined with the extreme simplicity of its shape - whatever the reason, it is now recognized in urban vocabulary as his signature.
The Elephant has a generous space to accommodate his numerous ideas. He discovered that not only was he able to fill it internally, but also extrapolate its inner world externally into an aura. Karam's very first Elephants were mere sketches. He subsequently began creating large scale drawings and paintings on canvas, before giving it three-dimensional life.
Like Karam, the elephant is known for his memory, for treasuring images and emotions of the past and bringing them to life in the present. Sometimes this memory becomes a heavy burden, sometimes it is flowery and fills the entire body of the elephant. And in other cases, the elephant is empty, but his aura spreads around him like a rainbow that is filled with an intricate intermingling of lines, shapes, mathematics, a poetic and chaotic geometry.
This particular Pearl Elephant is a unique piece, a painstaking composition of Middle Eastern buttons with a pearly iridescence. The buttons almost become like soap bubbles capturing the light from all corners and radiating energy, warmth and light. The art work reveals and protects the precious aspect of small details, retaining the grandeur and beauty of the whole.