Farah Atassi

Visual Artist
(Updated on 01/16/2013)

Born in Brussels in 1981 to Syrian parents, Farah Atassi is one of the most famous artists of a very young generation of French painters.

Having graduated from the National School of Fine Arts in 2005, she has shown her work at the Ferme du Buisson, the last salon de Montrouge, and was part of the exhibition entitled “Dynasty” at the Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris and the Palais de Tokyo. Although her work is figurative, Farah Atassi’s research is essentially abstract. She shares a collective consciousness concerning the surface, density, intensity, depth and its limits, with artists such as Peter Halley and Dan Walsh. She paints transition sites – poor and pillaged waiting rooms, offices, empty kitchens, and workers’ dormitories – which are above all the articulated surfaces of an enclosed world. The various shades and chromatic temperatures as well as the pertinence and the audacity of certain contrasts reveal the artist’s remarkable instinct for color. Her treatment of the layout, material, as well as color is such that the depth of these spaces never contradicts the two dimensionality of the canvas and her inclusion of other flukes brings to mind the physical materiality of her paintings, the arrangement of forms, and their very inclusion. The spaces in Farah Atassi’s paintings are like the inner worlds of dreams left unexplained, where all objects and constructions needle our mental loopholes. This absence reveals what was previously hidden. Even though there are no representations of people, her paintings strongly evoke them, if only by default, through a multitude of aesthetic and social references. In the presence of this dearth, the bright colored details of objects, architectural details, hybrid and improbable furnishings, lamps, and other elements that supposedly produce light, are our only bearings along our drifting path. The unreel spaces and light evoke at times the interiors of Flemish painting, whether they be Metsys or Vermeer, which delineate vague rooms: bathed in white moonlight flowing implicitly from an exterior, the objects and constructions communicate their historical moment, all the while impregnated with a symbolic presence. Her art speaks about art, but never enters into discourse or rhetoric. She abstains from the ocean of images and forms that is modernity in order to isolate them. The cluster of florescent lamps recalls certain light installations – both from visual art and design – and the paintings or objects borrowed from Malevitch, Morandi, or even Bernard Buffet enter into play with the images painted in a heterogeneous process and freed from a hierarchy of value. Chairs by designers such as Mart Stam, Charles Eames, and even Patrick Jouin, fraternize with other more ordinary compatriots and become as faceless as those that populate our daily life. Although her work is based on in-depth research and documents, she paints imaginary places – maybe even the place of the imagination – that can bring out terror as well as wonder. The rooms in a real-life brothel, the locations filmed by Tarkovski, Orson Welles, and Michael Snow, scenes from Beckett’s plays, and even Borges’s novellas, are amongst those that act as an allegorical backdrop where man lives in an unidentifiable space that exists inside himself. For her first solo show, Farah Atassi presented almost a dozen new works at the Xippas Gallery. Her work will also be shown this spring at Les Eglises Art Center in Chelles, France, and also this fall, at the 6th Curitiba Biennale in Brazil.

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