Mason Exhibitions Arlington presents "Pressure, Movement, Effect" by Syrian Artist Abdulrahman Naanseh

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Syrian Artist Abdulrahman Naanseh in a black and white image.
Syrian artist Abdulrahman Naanseh is the 2022 Artist-in-Residence at Mason’s School of Art.

Mason Exhibitions is honored to present Abdulrahman Naanseh: Pressure, Movement, Effecta solo exhibition of the artist’s recent Arabic calligraphy on paper and canvas, on view June 17 through August 6, 2022. The opening reception for Pressure, Movement, Effectwill kick off with the Arlington Collective Art Walk the evening of June 17, featuring self-guided art experiences open to the public that connects seven local galleries.

Syrian artist Abdulrahman Naanseh (b.1991) is an Artist Protection Fund Fellow (IIE-APF) and the 2022 Artist-in-Residence at George Mason University’s School of Art. Naanseh’s calligraphy is a personal response to the tangled narratives of religion and politics that characterize life in his native Syria, which Naanseh sees as essential to understanding the Middle East or the Arab region.

“With today’s online culture and the proliferation of graffiti and street art, calligraphy is more visible and influential today than ever before," shares George Mason University Curator, Don Russell. "Naanseh is a great example of an artist who is extending and freeing this ancient form.”

Naanseh learned Arabic calligraphy with the support of his father, a self-taught calligrapher. Naanseh has excelled in this field with exhibitions at the Arneli Art Gallery during the Beit Misk Festival in Beirut, murals at Damascus University, solo exhibitions in Syria in 2002 and 2005, and national Arabic calligraphy competitions. The practice of Arabic calligraphy spans nearly 2,000 years and is strongly influenced by Islamic culture and design. Naanseh’s analytical approach involves research and readings of modern and ancient Arabic poetry, linguistic analysis of Arabic words and sounds, as well as direct experience of the social pressures engrained in religion and politics.

Abdulrahman Naanseh - All Distances are Dangerous, 2022. Photo Credit: Sophie Bae
"All Distances are Dangerous," 2022.
Photo Credit: Sophie Bae

Naanseh’s recent work focuses on three specific words and concepts and their expression in Arabic script: pressure, movement, and effect. Pressure is force signaling a pen or brush on paper; a mental, physical, and social constraint; it pushes back. Movement is a path; a strategy; and a cadence that gives shape, substance, and emotional resonance to poetry, music, or storytelling. Effect is the external impact and change.

In each artwork or sequence of works, Naanseh starts with one of these three simple words and by repeating and altering their forms in a variety of styles, scales, layers, and colors, he builds visual structures and motifs which compound and refract their potential readings. Like concrete poetry, the resulting images can be appreciated on multiple levels, as poetic formal abstractions and conceptually driven commentary on the social circumstances of the artist’s native region.

An initiative of Institute of International Education, the Artist Protection Fund (IIE-APF) fills a critical unmet need by protecting threatened artists and placing them at welcoming host institutions in safe countries where they can continue their work and plan for their futures. IIE-APF places these artists in safe havens for a full year and provides fellowship funding, mentoring, and inclusion in a comprehensive network of artistic and social support.

Arlington Collective Art Walk
The opening reception for Pressure, Movement, Effect will kick off with the Arlington Collective Art Walk, a self-guided art experience that connects seven local galleries.

Friday, June 17, 2022
5-7 p.m. participants will walk between venues independently 
7-9 p.m. participants will culminate at WHINO for an Arlington Collective Art community engagement opportunity

Pressure, Movement, Effect is on view June 17 through August 6, 2022. For more information visit the Mason Exhibitions website.

Logo for iie Artist Protection Fund.