Rabab Saabna | Furrowed Faces
Curator: Farid Abu Shakra
Facial furrows, time, place, meridian, and memory – these terms emerge in order to reorganize our psychological, social, and national confrontations that precede our names. They create a dialogue between what’s inside and what’s outside, a potentially mystical dialogue, that strips us of what’s under our skin and allows the gaze to pierce it in order to reach the meaning. It is through these terms that artist Rabab Saabna attempts to get to know herself and the Other who lies under and outside her skin.
Wars, in their various personal and collective, psychological and social forms, acquire the tendency to take control of our bodies and make them into war machines that explode onto others or are tortured in order to defend the homeland or be offered up as a gift to the gods.
The study of Saabna's work leads to the light. This is the focal point of her poetic aesthetic, through which the reading her paintings can be read holistically and completely. She paints with inexpensive charcoals, as the artist avails herself of rich complexions of grey that erupt from the black in order to meet the white, a flicker of light that envelopes and dominates—a light that extends to infinity.
Rabab paints as if she is writing of a poem. The poesy that exists in the shades of gray that envelops her is like a placid symphony performed by the creased faces. One can almost hear the inner sounds that flow like water and invite viewers to re-create the tumbling plastic waterfall that seeks its source and retreats alone into every corner, as the artist plays her melody with simplicity and with a calmness that strongly reflect her personality.
While Saabneh’s visual approach derives its power from the courage that she brings to her confrontation with the act of painting, she unflinchingly tackles the range of accessories and expressions in modern ways that share a courageous social commentary with superb technical implementation. She stirs protest by means of her art—“social art, art for society or mobilized art”— in order to instigate a dialogue among those who are different. This is the dialogue that Middle East society thirsts for as a medium of communication to get to a better place. She makes beauty a medium with which to send messages, and conceal the human tragedy that women experience in the world at large and, particularly, in the Middle East.