November 3 – 26, 2022
Featuring minimalist black & white or limited palette acrylic paintings and graphite drawings, artist Rajaa Gharbi’s exhibition From Another Impressionism brings back the “wise fool” Joha/Mulla Nasrudin for another visit and “conversation” to her steadily dialogic and evocative artwork.
The proverbially amusing rebel philosopher Joha/Mulla Nasrudin (whose thousands of hilarious but, to one degree or another, maddening stories are told around the world with lots of them translated into many languages) came to Gharbi’s studio. He wanted to talk with her about some of the paintings she makes but seldom shows, and said he might buy a few of them. Gharbi emphasized the importance of talking with viewers about what they see in her work to him, and also offers that, intentionally, these paintings are personal impressions, and at times commentary on traditional calligraphy – but are paintings and not traditional calligraphy works.
The palettes in most of Gharbi’s previous exhibitions run the gamut of the color wheel. But in these works, which are part of a collection of medium, large and miniature scale images she started in 1987, she introduces minimalist signs, which by singular appearance or repetition, become mountain or building, human, animal or even jinni, angel or devil in “shape” or thought. She uses a limited palette of black, red and white acrylic and 18ct gold ink on paper. Until 2014, Gharbi followed the call of the painting impulse and its subject matter. But since then she uses this limited palette in praise of the best, known or unknown to her, image creators that preceded her in the four corners of the planet. A few of them are the visual artists of the 10,000-30,000 year old gigantic Tassili Desert murals of Gharbi’s native African continent, and Ibis, the God of writing, about whom an English language poem she wrote in 2004, continues to be published in international anthologies and is translated to other languages. A much later source of affirmation of the “scriptural” black and limited palette is Zhejiang province son and great innovative artist, Pan Gongkai, whose art she saw for the first time at Seattle’s Frye Art Museum in 2014.
Until 2006 Gharbi was mostly a watercolor painter. After a retrospective exhibition at the Tunisian embassy in Washington DC the same year, she experimented for two years with translating watercolor and calligraphic techniques into acrylic work and reversing the processes she learned back to single medium, or multiple mediums’ uses in the same painting. The drawings and paintings in this exhibition reflect some of the techniques she’s been using since those two years. The themes are current, at once specific, and universal. Without exception, all Gharbi’s artwork begins with the possibility of love and ends with it.
During the first two weeks of her exhibition Gharbi will be presenting her work and giving poetry readings in Santiago, Chile from her own recently translated and published poetry. She will be reading at the Valparaiso House-Museum of Pablo Neruda on Nov. 5th and the Centro Cultural Teatro Serrano, Santiago Metropolitan on Nov. 7th.
From Another Impressionism will be on display at Gallery 110 from November 3 – 26, 2022. The gallery is open to the public from 12PM to 5PM on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays and by appointment. Or stop by during the Pioneer Square First Thursday Art Walk on November 3 from 4-8PM.