Miryam Haddad invokes the Phoenician god of chaos and storms in “La complainte de Yam,” her second exhibition at this gallery, where new works in watercolor and oil draw on symbols associated with Poseidon’s predecessor, Yam, whose name rose from the Canaanite word for “sea.” During lockdown, Haddad, unable to access her studio, achieved “creativity out of crisis,” to borrow from literary theorist Evelyne Grossman’s latest thesis, channeling the turbulence of her large-scale oil paintings onto smaller watercolors on Japanese paper.
The fourteen aquarelles shown here, part of Haddad’s series “La fonte des cieux” (The melting of the skies) (all works 2020), feature circular geometries, round disks, hoops, and arcs, often juxtaposed with gestural suggestions of animal forms awash in waves of blue, violet, and green. In one striking drawing, an owl’s round eyes echo the contours of Haddad’s recurring rings, most often rendered in solar tones of golden yellow or bright orange. Whereas much of her watercolor paper is kept dry—luminous in its coarse whiteness—Haddad’s canvases roil with allover waves of high color impasto. Several large paintings dazzle, but the works that shine brightest are nine canvases even smaller than her watercolors. One such canvas is Le moisson de l’aube (Harvest of dawn): Like the eye of a hurricane, on a stretched oval, Haddad paints in rich ochre, radiant turquoise, and a world of tones in between, suggesting, amid momentary stillness, a shark mid-dive. With her brush, Haddad ties painting to an ancient, fierce and fluid, force.
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