Space Cries, Time Cries
Carlos Sanchez Fuenmayor
Once again, Nabil Kanso astonishes the people of Venezuela. Two years earlier in 1985, Maracaibo witnessed the polemic caused by Kanso's paintings. Today, the Ateneo de Caracas exhibits 30 new versions of the Apocalypse according to Kanso.
In dealing with the horrors of war and the circumstance of peace that mankind requires, Kanso creates enormous paintings that serve as powerful weapons in fighting war. Through all his exhibitions, he shows the whole gamut of human suffering and pain. The tortured language itself makes his work a universal manifestation of solidarity. Paintings smelling of human blood escape from the frame and break out into the spaces of galleries and museums as an unchained dialogue of current expressionism. Paintings depicting scenes of war and destruction reflect visions of the fire devouring corpses of the human massacre. Pictures with an intimate writing seek refuge in a single word in order to avoid its conversion into a foreshadowing of other time and space.
Kanso looks at the contrast between the reality of war and the reality of painting in order to construct a new reality achieved through freedom, which is the basis of every creation. The works are conceptions that portray the source of life itself. The enormous canvases are filled with movement and violence of figural imagery reflecting Kanso's visions. In responding to the devastation and destruction of war in affecting our lives, his mural paintings depict emotionally steering and confrontational scenes that draw the interest and involvement of the public in witnessing the violent events. To some viewers the paintings are iconographic manifestations of protest against the proliferation of war resulting in a hellish environment from which people are desperately trying to escape in order to survive. To others the images represent a temporal world permeated by a chain of violence and chaotic events created by mankind.
Kanso disturbs the chromatic gamut of light and shadow through which the victims emerge from the canvases with a common sigh of an open injury sustained by social reality. Human perspectives accuse and denounce the existence of justice at the hands of war-making rulers, not only in his native country, Lebanon, but also in other countries throughout the universe. Kanso reveals the decomposition of the truth with expressive power and maximum impact aiming to give the general public an in-depth vision of a much wider scope than the pictorial representation of news events blotting the history of mankind. His work is a chronicle of the make up and color of the different races standing together in the potter's field in which a degrading and an offensive progress has transformed earth into a landscape of corpses.
These mural paintings bring out the earthly nightmares that have concealed the serenity of paradise and peace, and transmit a new calling for an awakening. Kanso seems to be a prophet who talks about the broken bodies. Requirements for any code or rule present no obstacle to his expression. Modern painting represents modern man. The most sacred interpretation of community affairs reflects the new art conceptions. Everything is an event. Neither art nor life is caricatured or ionized with a particular background or situation. Implications discovering values are never abandoned by the artist who creates and recreates in a continual struggle to promote and preserve the role and significance of painting. The background serves to reinforce and strengthen the striving for the earthly rubric of human rights.
In perceiving and understanding man in his social context, Kanso's conception of human beings is expressed with a conscience examination, spontaneous compulsion, and total freedom in depicting scenes of brutality, death, pain, sexuality, and terror. He knows how to deal with the subject matter of war and insists on showing it in his works. There are artists who attempt to portray particular events by leaving life at the rear of their work. The difficulties of making and showing new works demands confidence, courage, daring, and a synthesis, which stands here as a tribunal in interpreting and transmitting voices from murals confronting the viewer: space cries, time cries. The silent voices burst out of the expressions and gestures of the masses of figures. Together, in a massive force, they plunge into an apocalyptic storm.
Time and space that sink in fine arts exhibitions in bloody and mourning days have converged to stand up and take the challenge. The visual expression of man as his own destructor and executioner is rendered through compositions that show reality from different angles with multiple meanings. The resistance of the spirit delves into the depth when all the signs and trenches point toward a holocaust. On many occasions, man has been depicted in a vacuum of existence. When he appears with complete abandonment, the resistance of the color brings out a redemptive action. Kanso expresses the reality of hegemony, animosity, hate, poverty, suffering and death in powerful mural paintings whose images effectively communicate that reality to the people.
Scenes of terror, violence, and war, expressions of cruelty, pain, and helplessness, settling of accounts, reconciliation and peace, are projected with definitive force and balance. For a viewer standing in front one of these paintings, it would be impossible to escape; there are no forbidden images or words. The present situation of war, art gives the artist ample reasons to create such paintings. Kanso's work relates the different fields of life and death, and extends a meaningful relationship with the world today. There are eloquent purposes that inspire and encourage actions aimed at halting violence and its spread. A violence that even touches the paint brushes emitting cries that provoke an intense agitation in the public facing the mural paintings.
Fuenmayor, Carlos Shancez: "Nabil Kanso's Paintings: Space Cries, Time Cries" La Columna, 21 May, 1987, Maraaibo, Venezuela