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To be “On the horse” and behind the screen

Nava Shoshani

Due to the Islam’s ban on creating any animalhuman figures since its very first days, Muslim artists have turned to the art of trimming and decorating and have done wonders

 

   Due to the Islam’s ban on creating any animalhuman figures since its very first days, Muslim artists have turned to the art of trimming and decorating and have done wonders with it. Out of a limitation came Islamic art and created an abundance of spectacular geometrical figures, models and curvy lines combined into one another in an endless richness of color and shape. Therefore, even today when these limitations are seldom applied, many artists continue to use all these decorative elements. In the work of Ahmad Canaan, out of a will to profoundly look at and explore the past and the Arab heritage, the Arabesque and geometrical shapes have turned into an inseparable and distinctive mark of his artwork.
          A different style that Ahmed developed, still influenced by the decorative art, is the use of the “Mushrabiya”, which is a wooden latticea furrowed concrete, used in the house’s porch, separating it partially from the outside street. It reduces the heat of the sunblow of the wind and allows the people in the house to observe the outside while maintaining privacy to the occupants of the house who may not be clearly seen .This lattice is also called “Shabakiya”, meaning originally a “fishermen net”. And indeed this divider reminds a net in its design, being a platform, from which geometrical shapes were removed. From behind the shelter offered by the Mushrabiya, Ahmad draws the sight of the street and images from within his mind. It is possible to see how his creation leads to a place where the artist feels trapped, an outsider; representing a sort of curfew, whether by choicenot.
 
    Another of Ahmad’s unique techniques is assembling and disassembling combined with the use of Synergy. Meaning, taking the whole and making it more than the sum of all its parts. Like a flock of many small fish, swimming together and by doing that appearing like a big threatening animal, preventing the bigger fish from hunting them. Ahmad’s process includes a platform, out of which smaller parts were removed and fused into a new art piece. This kind of art makes the Ornamentation an actual thesis. The technical principle of the design expresses the conceptual ideas and substance of the piece. Taking some shapes out of the platform, just like melting them into a new mass, is the artist declaration.
    Generally it can be said that the Ornamentics in Ahmad Canaan’s work sometime appears as a visual backgrounda formative layer, but in most cases it’s a screen, softeningdeceiving, through which the artist’s ideas and insights are shown. The viewer is exposed to the heavy content and pain through out a decorative front.
Most of Ahmad’s pieces in this exhibition belong to a new series called “ The knight ”. This series shows the horse as a representative image for the leader, the warrior, the soldier, the people. Sometimes the knight is upright and a winner, and sometimes defeateda victim. This selected image is derived from the longing of the artist to the days when the Arab people were “On the horse”. And so an allegedly naive weave of layers and shapes become a wider and stronger, sometimes even blunt, statement. A structure with a texture made of and/or emptied of multiple horses, becomes a statement about a people without an army and without a leader compared to the potential that lays in the changing of this situation.
 
Written by Nava Shoshani – curator and sculptress  
Translated by Nofar Shoshani