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Farah Atassi

Date : 2009

Medium : Painting

Size : 195 x 160 cm

Oil on canvas

Farah Atassi's paintings are positive negatives suspended between order and chaos. Her work uses objects that reveal the art of the painting. Space is structured geometrically, its lines dictated by bricks, tiles and doors. These closed, orderly areas are overwhelmed with abandoned objects - a chair here, a mirror there, accidents of form and colour in a world in black and white. Her work reflects on deprivation, emptiness and absence, and describes desolate public and private spaces, which she calls "transition sites".

Courtesy Xippas Gallery
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The guide

This painting by Farah Atassi oscillates between two worlds, between figuration and abstraction, reality and illusion. What is she showing us? The first (and perhaps the only) thing we can be certain of is that it is an interior, surely a kitchen judging from the white tiles, pipes and furniture.    

What next? Doubts emerge.
Where does the hallway at the left lead? What is the enigmatic painting on the wall? Why do the reflections melt into the floor? And have you noticed the ceiling? Does it not seem cut off from the rest of the painting, as if it was a collage and the sad, grey top half was superimposed from the image of a car park?

The artist, who resides in France and has Syrian roots, paints what she calls transitional spaces, the miserable, abandoned, all-purpose rooms, that have obsessed her since she first learned about Russia’s communal apartments. She also creates a temporal rift in this empty setting: we arrive too late, or too early, to understand what has happened. Man has certainly fled.

Nonetheless, all the objects in the room remind us of his passage, including the painting within the painting. Take a closer look at it. Isn’t it familiar? In her paintings, Atassi creates vantage points for which the only reference is Painting. Here she cites one of the pioneers of abstraction: the Russian painter Kazimir Malevich, creator of the faithfully reproduced painting Complex Presentiment: Half-Figure in a Yellow Shirt.

With this interplay of citations, Atassi seeks perhaps to achieve the ideal artwork, which lies somewhere between figuration and abstraction and where objects melt into the setting. This is an important painting that has been stripped down to the bare essentials.