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Exhibition by HALA SCHOUKAIR
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The universe is boundless and expansive. To think its vastness is to detect the limits of knowledge. Or, such is the maxim with which Hala Schoukair paints her worlds: to venture into the infinite one should find the universe in the smallest of particles. Her paintings locate entire ecosystems in the heart of an artichoke, a grain of salt, a pine seed. In between the smallness of her subject and the magnitude of its detail, a parallel universe is carved out. Somewhere neither worldly nor transcendent, fields of color draw the viewer into a frenetic space of encounter. Schoukair is compelled by small things, and also knows herself to be small in the world. Like an ant, the marvel of her diminutiveness in relation to the world lies in the immensity of her labor.
She works only with a brush and a single color. She draws a line and bends it into a basic unit. She repeats ceaselessly until her brush dries, suturing unit to unit until their combination begets intricate forms. Like a craft, the lines undulate recurrently, but no two units are identical. Her process is repetitive and sweeping. It is also remedial: beginning with points of concentrated color, tension is relieved with the thinning of the paint. In her work, Schoukair invites the viewer to participate in her process through the act of looking closely through tracing with one's eyes the tautness of lines and color and their gradual ease. Her older works on paper have inspired more intimate encounters. Clearing entry for one onlooker at a time, they give in to tremulous chance meetings like those of first-time lovers.