Live Event

Time in Motion – Assadour

June 3 - June 16

Time in Motion features pieces by Assadour (b. 1943), a renowned Lebanese-Armenian figure, who was trained in Italy and France, and much like several artists of his generation, experienced with various styles of abstraction. This exhibition, held from June 5th to 9th at Cromwell Place, London, marks the first exclusive showcase of Assadour’s works in the United Kingdom. It brings together previously unseen pieces from private collections spanning over four decades.

Assadour’s œuvre is emblematic of his exploration of the modern condition, touched by alienation, inciting one to question their place amidst chaos and city life. The works that take on this task reveal figures morphed with geometric and cosmological shapes, characteristic of his outtake on time, industrialisation, and the human body’s relationship to the latter.

Drawing inspiration primarily from the Constructivist movement of the twentieth century, Assadour’s works utilize geometric abstraction to create visually intricate compositions. These shapes, however, are not random – they are rationally produced and seem to be based on fundamental laws of form and structure. Breaking away from other styles of abstraction, paint strokes and free-hand drawings are replaced by lines and circular shapes that seem to have been drawn with a ruler and a compass. The melange of geometric shapes, letters, and even numbers drawn in pencil create diagrams, revealing a rational system of thinking and design that refers to clockwork and the passage of time.

Initially focused on works on paper and printmaking, in the 1980s, Assadour began exploring landscapes filled with geometric shapes illustrating changing cities, ostensibly fragmented. A decade later, this painterly style and the exploration of such themes persisted with the inclusion of human silhouettes, questioning humanity’s place in the world, the construction of identity, our relationship with time, and hence, history. 19H52 GMT from 1996, for instance, includes a male and a female figure who seem to be floating in a circular manner amid even numbers sketched in pencil and others painted with tempera. As its title suggests, the piece refers to a frozen minute during which machine-like robotic shapes find themselves reflecting on their existence amid rapid and anxiety-inducing industrialisation, which could only result in alienation. Another piece on paper, entitled Protée, Paysage avec deux personnes (Protea, Landscape with Two People), from 1993 features “collaged” figures under a war plane, their arms in motion, signalling despair. Various domestic elements float above them, some abstract, other discernible, such as a vase and a wine glass. The piece seems to be referring to the destruction and the displacement caused by the Armenian genocide (1915-23), a theme to which Assadour is sensitive. Other works from this period also drew influences from East Asian aesthetics and iconography to which he was exposed during frequent stays in Thailand, Korea, and Japan, such as the piece Suite Songkla I from 1994.

Several decades later, Assadour continued including abstract human figures in his works. Compared to his previous works from the 1990s, however, these shapes exhibit more defined gradations in colour, creating a pronounced three-dimensional effect, making the elements appear closer and tactile to the viewer.

Albeit not having been as prolific as his contemporaries, Assadour’s rich and diverse pieces stand in a league of their own, appealing to different cultures and constituents. He is the only living artist to have combined inspirations from the Constructivism of the Bauhaus and the Parisian Surrealism – movements to which he was exposed during his trainings in Europe. Characterized by a unique approach to the human condition amid time, war, and up-rootedness, the limited number of his pieces contribute to their rarity and exceptionality, making them highly sought after.

Click here to view the online catalogue.

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