Saloua Raouda Choucair

Infinite Structure


Saloua Raouda Choucair 1916–2017
Tufa stone
Object: 2400 × 480 × 300 mm
Purchased with funds provided by the Middle East North Africa Acquisitions Committee 2011


Infinite Structure consists of twelve rectangular stone blocks piled one on top of another in a tall column nearly two and a half metres high. Each brick-like block has rectangular and circular forms cut into it, many of which completely pierce it, creating an interplay of holes and receding spaces. Infinite Structure is in part an homage to Constantin Brancusi’s (1876–1957) project, Endless Column (see, for example, Endless Column, Version 1, 1918, Museum of Modern Art, New York). Choucair’s work departs from Brancusi’s, however, in her geometric carving into the blocks of stone. As with Poem Wall (Tate T13279) of the same period, the interrelated forms refer to Islamic and Sufi poetry, which is characterised by the use of stanzas which can stand alone as poetical statements beyond the context of the poem as a whole. In much the same way, Choucair considered each of her blocks to have its own unique qualities, while forming part of the whole. The work also continues the architectural references established in Poem Wall.

Choucair studied painting under the tutelage of leading Lebanese landscape artists Mustafa Farroukh and Omar Onsi. She attended the American University in Beirut before going to Paris in 1948, where she studied at the École des Beaux-Arts and spent time in the studio of Fernand Léger (1881–1955). On her return to Beirut in the early 1950s, she began to make sculptures. Her appreciation of western abstraction was coloured by her study of Islamic aesthetics and her modular sculpture and abstract paintings are characterised by a combination of the curve and the straight line, two basic elements of Islamic design.

Further reading
Joseph Tarrab, Hala Schoukair, Helen Kahl, Saloua Raouda Choucair: Her Life and Work, Beirut 2002.

Jessica Morgan
August 2010

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Display caption

Choucair’s painting and sculpture combines European abstraction with Arab and Islamic traditions. Many of her sculptures are composed of interlocking pieces, which build to create a larger structure resembling a column or a wall. Infinite Structure, a tower of multiple rectangular stone blocks, reflects her affinity with architectural structures. Choucair once said that given another life to live she would choose to be an architect.

Gallery label, October 2016

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