Saloua Raouda Choucair: Exhibition guide: Room 2

Saloua Raouda Choucair Composition in Blue Module 1947-51

Saloua Raouda Choucair
Composition in Blue Module 1947–51

© Saloua Raouda Choucair Foundation

In the late 1940s Choucair was already creating abstract painted compositions which she called ‘Fractional Modules’. Many of her gouache studies are made up of repeated shapes, underpinned by mathematical and geometric rulings. Choucair was interested in using the two basic elements of Islamic design – the straight line and the curve – as a starting point to create simple shapes formed from angular lines and curves which she then duplicated in various combinations and divisions across the picture plane. Her small gouaches were often studies for textile pieces such as rugs, murals or larger oil paintings like Fractional Module 1959–60 and Composition in Blue Module 1947–51, as seen in Room 2.

Choucair returned to Beirut in the early 1950s, following a brief visit to America to research enamelling techniques and jewellery making.

Critics in her home country have always found her style hard to evaluate, but do recognise a validity in her work, often labelling it ‘abstract’ or ‘expressive’. Choucair’s artistic journey to capture the essence of Islamic influence in art and design and to create a new modernist abstract art soon led her to sculpture, a medium in which she could explore form and structure in three dimensions. Her earliest sculptural series focused on the trajectory of the line and its potential to change shape or to reach infinity. The artist often created works in discrete series. These include her ‘Interforms’, such as Sculpture with One Thousand Pieces 1966–8, seemingly simple cubes or blocks, which house intricately carved and highly complex internal forms. Infinite Structure 1963–5 is a tower of multiple rectangular stone blocks, one atop the other, each with individual square and spherical holes cut into them.