‘Revealing itself and concealing the artist’ is the aim of art, according to St Petersburg-born artist Layla Mossallem. Using a limited colour palette for each painting – with a preference for black, a non-colour that stands as a mirror – the artist creates abstract human forms, in which shades always refer to symbols or pertain to a certain mood. In search of mankind’s identity, the artist’s compositions manage to grab the duality of her subjects, both ephemeral and permanent.
In front of her creations, one can easily lose one’s certitudes: what’s the limit between reality and fantasy? Where does the past stop? are some questions that can be asked by Mossallem’s ghostly figures. Apart from interrogating our perceptions, the painter’s nostalgia for wild forests untouched by human hand, such as those from her childhood in Russia, brings us to other sensations. We are not surprised to discover that Mossallem’s paintings contain natural elements, branches, twigs and roots that make you feel like you want to touch the paintings.
As a testament to man’s lack of respect to environment, the artist also uses rusty metal and plastic deteriorating in her work, as bold symbols of the state of our ecological system. An intuitive artist, Mossallem paints directly with her fingers, a technique that conveys a strong feeling of intimate relationship with her pieces of art.
Zaaman Art Gallery (01 745571) Ground Floor, Abou El Hasan Bldg, Sadat Str, Hamra. Daily 10am-7pm. June 9-July 2