Fouad Agbaria: Visual Memory

 

 

 

Fouad Agbaria is a graduate of the Art department of the Bezalel Academy of Arts & Design, Jerusalem, who is studying at Haifa University now for his MFA. Once he had received his degree from Bezalel, Agbaria decided on a traditional Palestinian way of life, and he returned to Umm el-Fahem to work and family life. The gap separating the bohemian lifestyle of the individual artist and his daily life as the father of a family, has been the central motif of his works ever since thena.

Utilizing a glaring modernist style of painting, he leads the viewer to the local landscape, the lost vistas of his childhood. He returns to Musmus, the village where he was born, to reexamine the limitations of the place where he functions as a mature, sober man of social-political awareness.  Agbaria’s topics enthrall the eye of the viewer: sketches of Musmus; the world of his childhood among the sabra fences; the old house; the aroma of hyssop (“za’atar”), the vetch fields; the cattle and sheep herds at harvest time, and the olive orchards. Viewers find themselves standing before images in which the local aromas can just about be smelled – za’atar, cumin and other spices that have been a part of the wadi since time immemorial. These and other topics can be seen in Agbaria’s intense experiments to revive the art of design molds in his lithographs from 2000-2004, when he was at Bezalel, and they appear once again in his new oil paintings that are part of the current exhibition, a gestalt, so to speak, a repetitive pattern of thought that does not let go.

The new paintings, such as “Self Portrait,” or those dealing with the landscapes of his childhood that are repeated again and again, each time in different composition, are treated with colors that deviate from the artist’s traditional palette of gleaming colors, those dominant in the dialogue for which he is known, and which are an expression of the sort of nostalgia that awakens the memory, but doesnot arouse the consciousness with a scream. The issues on exhibit in this quality collection express moods and dispositions, together with the daily fight for existence. However, they are all ways, from different points of views, of coping with challenges. As the artist himself remarks:

"The story I tell in my new works represents aspects of the suffering I experience, on the level of the collective as well, including self-criticism to the degree this is possible, to bind my artistic endeavors strongly to my society and its problems."

 

Abed Abdi

 

The Catalog of Fouad Agbaria: Visual Memory

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