Karim Abu Shakra: the Unity of Human Being, Nature and Animals
“I had a wonderful childhood. Like other children of my age at that time, I used to spend my free time hiking in nature; I loved hunting, especially the black redstart birds, and I also loved fishing. The wonderful, complex moments of that time were when the fish was caught on the fish hook. I used to look at the fish fighting for its life, almost dead.”
Karim Abu Shakra presents scenes that include a unique combination between three elements: the human being, the nature and the animals. The Sabra plants, the birds, the fish and the animals are eminent in the paintings presented at this exhibition, introducing an autobiographical expression of the artist. In the aforementioned citation, the artist gives expression to an important philosophical idea: the unity of the human being, the nature and the animals, as in an equation that joins together the sky, the sea and the land.
It should be noted that Abu Shakra never plans where to locate these creatures in advance; they are intertwined associatively, as a part of the image reservoir of his childhood. In some of the paintings we can see a peculiar bird whose contours are blurred and which is located in an undefined place, or fish floating in amorphous space. Due to no specific reference to their location, these animals seem detached from reality.
Abu Shakra’s interweaving of subjects and symbols in his paintings is an expression of his inner world, a world he controls by symbols taken from the external world, such as the fish, the bird and the Sabra plant; it is evident that the artist’s experiences are related to these symbols and their meanings, and they all rise from the depths of the artist’s memory. These memories rise back to the surface in a sort of poetic style, without interpretation.
, Abu Shakra’s artworks can be considered as his autobiographies, as he himself notes:
“I paint without thinking and without planning what I’m going to paint. The painting’s theme stems from within me, but before I start painting I try to collect my memories. It’s important to say that I observe meticulously each and every bud or rock around me, and I sometimes enter a meditative state; for example, when I stare at the Sabra leaf for hours. And when I paint I notice nothing but my painting. Perhaps you can compare me to other artists that I either know or don’t know. Each thing that I see – I do not paint it until I feel it and it becomes a part of me, and all you see is a part of who I am.”
The notion of Unity of Man and Nature is reflected in the painting through the combination of what the artist sees through his eyes and what is happening inside him, thus creating a painting which is a part of his own body.
Karim’s inclination to continue painting the Sabra plant – a theme that occupied Asim Abu Shakra – can be considered as an expression of the influential encounter he had with Asim’s art and its impact on him; just like the impression that other experiences connected to hunting and nature made upon him, and which are also expressed in his current exhibition.