.. The non-figurative art should not be reduced to the catalyst sign that points out spontanious gesturing, nor to be submited and reduced to geometric laws. If besides, it brushes close to the organic, ingests different materials, embraces technological curves, escapes into the complexities of writing or the mobility of the task, it allows itself some underground wonderings, secret shades obeying to general laws well away from what is immediately represented responding mostly to an ethic and specific identity beyond any direct classification.
This sort of adjustement is a particular classification of Nadia Saïkali's way. In fact, without her joining radicaly one of the supporting axis of abstract art, her work stands in the area where analogies melt into the metaphoric networks of an iconic writing of pure sensitiveness, finely woven of multiple gradations and numerous energies channeled by a regulating flood, reorganised by a subtle substructure which defines its framework.
Lebanese born, N.Saïkali is highly attracted at first by Cezanne and the cubisme before committing herself in 1957 to non-objective painting. In 1966 the discovery of serial and concrete music leads her to a new perception of space, linked to the dimention of time. Deserting oil painting, she then realized collages, reliefs and lumino-kinetic volumes sparing and free, before her taking up again with traditional techniques and shaping up the style which features her to-day. For her now, each painting is a gestation and a birth requiring bareness and silence. Nourished by reminiscences sealed in the Middle-East, glorified by the mediterranean light and tempered by the french measure, emerges an art of europeen essence in spite of inevitable connotations. An art infinitely shaded, combining wrinkled wefts and muffeled breathing, strikes and stumped scumbles, cuts and narrowed openings stabilised by verticals innervated within the texture's fluidity or as more recently, conceived by interdependant plans on different levels on which have been added meta-signs and ideograms with strokes and gaps, a flowing and compact world, sometimes severe and prickly, othertimes brightly coloured, always harmonious. If the use of wondering gesture, intuition are here claimed for, by opposition to construction erected in dogma, it nevertheless combines with the watchful control of thought, spiritual practice teaming up with lyrism and architectural, in a synthesis restricting hazardous games and erasing unwelcome nostalgia.
The equation painting-memory in other words, the link to real life, thus stands out in N. Saïkali's works, emerging from human reality, a well thought chromatic and graphic interpenetration of plaited modulations conveying a semantic issued from the depths of consciousness. Beyond words, what stands out from this approach, is obvious pleasure to paint, to suggest emotions and feelings by using imperceptible signs, along which roots, history, mature experience, stand outlined and for which to be fully understood, one has to achieve stillness within.
It is not always true, this so-called determinism of places, and its direct action on life and the work of those who hang on to life. To live in the "Bateau Lavoir" and to paint, as does Saïkali,for example, is already a challenge. It is even something else entirely. Beginning with a total distance from History of Art which fashioned there one of those "booby traps", after having situated several of its most flamboyant chapters.
Refering to those who here, after much misery, "found themselves", is to be assured of a reputation, but to generally sink into purely commercial art.
Avoiding phantoms, is to prove that one has known how to tame one's own. Finding one's own strengths rather than to drawing on other people's. And then imitate them.This is how Saïkali is. From where, the virginity of her aim. And, no doubt it's appeal.
It does not sink down into the depths that psychoanalysis has handed to us, and modern art,which is often a manner of speaking to oneself, rather than a manner of creating a world legible for all of us and where everyone can find himself, making of art an elitist world. And very much coded.
Saïkali's painting comes from no particular place, no particular time. Because it strives for the Universal,because it is timeless. Ambitious. Even more so that it throws itself into the chase after the great language of the universe and of the time. Beyond the instantaneous. It is born from the hand. It is the beginning of man's affirmation. A conscious identity. In the shadow of conscience, life's babblings order, this gesture inaugurated creativity to come.
Man's beginning is this imprint of the hand-mirror. A bridge made towards the world. Because to make a mark on it, is to possess it. Saïkali has this instinctive thirst. Even though to her, possession is not a sufficient motive. Unique, her act is one of assimilation instead,or a dream-like reading of the world, in a generous globality. The hand is a symbol rather than an instrument. From it the world is born. It is a world. A game of the lines following one another, in concert, before diverging, like trickles from a unique source. It is the hand-landscape. From it other spaces will be born, a geography which also refers to the sea, to magnetic fields: expression of mysterious, universal forces. Also an idea of irrevocable tranquil forces is formed, obliterating the space of their growth. Occupation of space (is it not drawing's very aim! ) and penetration of matter are soon the two modes of perception, of expression, which she uses with equal skill. Because for her, painting has no descriptive vocation,but must find the texture itself from which she seems to be self emanation, the secretion of time. At it's own measure. Slowly shaped by wear and tear,successive sedimentations, an impregnation of successive accidental contributions whose order is arrived at naturally. From there, her passion for old illegible scrawls. No matter then, the contents of their messages, because it is in their illegibility that they attain this dimension which makes them attractive, confers to them this beauty which lasts at the condition of being under the sign of slowness, the specific expression of this slownes that generates harmony.
To recreate that beauty, to imitate it, is part of the genious that someone else would put into realism, resemblance, fantastic effect. Though here, it would be a specific kind of ressemblance: that of matter itself. Dreaming of their past, grave with their riches, sober. Because no brilliance will ever come here to distort the position taken by Gaston Bachelard, with whom this work has great affinity. With no doubt Bachelard would have found fertile soil here for investigation.Matter therefore, matter for what it is. A waiting land. Open matter. Live matter. History has disolved in it. From there the path of a simple abstracted landscaped evocation to this "archeodermis" which barbarism is also an image of. Like lands excavated in order that we may discover our past, our birth. A work of Saïkali is read for what it also hides. Especially light. One can see it springing up behind colour, as if stifled, prisoner, ready to explode.
A force but also fervor, which does not dress up, does not parade about, with arrogance, but continues its course of action that one senses ardent, behind the scenes of the painting, in its depths, its roots. It is the shadows that one sees, appearing in the foreground, the way the earth's crust covers the ardent inner fire which popular imagery calls malefic energy: hell. But for Saïkali this occult light is not one of disorder. She nourishes it with total fervor. In losing herself in gestural sleepwalking, which in principle was erected in the practice of contemporary art, Saïkali does not however lose the mastery of what makes her subject essential: a materiology of tenderness, of reflection and order is born of the slowness which has presided over the various layers and textures of a kind of pictorial epidermis.
A reflexive approach which situates its process in the peripheries of oriental art, and its tradition. From painting to painting a territory is established. Similar to no other, faithful to itself. In the logic of its practice, of its aspects, where the graphic's effect has dissolved in matter, like calligraphy in colour. So well that,at the end of a pictorial voyage under the sign of music,it is murmuring materiology that is offered to us. Ressembling grounds which are spaces for tracks, for ways through the mirror of time.
Jean-Jacques l'Evêque - (tiré à part de Cimaise) - Paris
Enigma of Space - Mystery of Time
Among the experienced veterans of the lebanese painting, Nadia Saïkali is very soon distinguished for her capturing more radicaly than others the spirit of her time. She throws herself into multiple innovations including kinetic arts. Without her ever stopping experimenting, she abandons the geometrical and chromatic rigour of painting combining occidental and oriental absraction, to adopt a more subjective way closer to the body and soul. A path that follows with time subtle periods and interpretations related to her "handprints".
The recent oil paintings that Nadia Saïkali painted in Lebanon between 2000 and 2005, combine happily a synthesis of "mental-landscaping" and "soul-feeling", stable structures, moving elements, horizontal basis, diagonal movements, solid stratums and liquid, layers. Shifting tectonic plates, sliding grounds, breaking waves allowed to be hemmed between limits defined by the static chromatic upper and lower strips as if the turmoil and the overwhelmed surface, the outbreaking events, the rising of long buried memories, the historical convulsions disturbing lines, should remain confined within the short lasting period of the central area registered between the long lasting periods of earth and sky. Lasting periods equaling Immobility.
On the vertical, the superposed levels of the paintings repeat continuously from canvas to canvas this vision of human history set into cosmic story by rapid diagonal strokes sometimes spread out or feverish some other time reflecting the change of mood by the dominant chromatic tones varied and particular to each canvas.
On the horizontal, the paintings appear like a "cut" in a moving strip for ever unwinding, a "stanstill" in the movie of time.
If with it's earthly "platform" and it's "entablature" the Space is verticaly limited, being boundless horizontaly, Time is unlimited, suggesting that what is happening outside the canvas in both left and right directions, the past and the futur, could be freely and indefinitely prolonged by imagination.
Nadia Saïkali's paintings appear as a subtle and playful counterpoint between the enigma of space seemingly forseeable, controlable, and the mystery of time unforseeable, uncontrolable able to come up at any moment with the best and the worst: evenings of happiness and catastrophic mornings, thus puting by wars, tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes the Space to be worked upside down.
Under an aspect of polished and sophisticated abstraction, primordial emotions are arroused, ready to be revealed if given just the necessary and sufficient attention.