Bassel Saadi’s exhibited steel constructions had humble beginnings as paper collages. Too fragile, they were transfigured into sheets upon sheets of steel. Flat triangles are cut up in the center, opening up to the wall on which they lie. They are superimposed by triangles, some flat and others protruding perpendicularly with sharp incisions. Suspended between the lightness of their origami-like forms and the weight of steel, Saadi’s constructions have an ambivalent relationship with the reality they propose.
The use of primary shapes and colors, as well as the superimposed triangles which break the work’s flatness, suggest a desire to build a reality from the ground up, while the abrasive edges demonstrate the violence that is ineluctable in that process, and the complicity of the one who imagines an alternative.
History can neither be erased, nor can it be consigned to the past. It pierces even the most utopian of social possibilities. Saadi’s constructions strive to overcome a brutal history not yet over, while imparting that to actualize an alternative reality is already entangled in that very history. Nevertheless, the polka dots and the brash, vibrant colors summon up the playfulness required to reimagine the world.
Bassel Saadi (b. 1970) is a self-taught Syrian artist. As a sculptor, he employs an array of media, including paper and steel. His work involves monumental public sculpture, collage and assemblage. Over the last ten years, he has had solo and group exhibitions in Amman, Berlin, Damascus, Dubai, Enschede and Paris, and has given sculpting workshops in Beirut and Karachi. He is the recipient of numerous awards from art festivals in Syria.
Text by Natasha Gasparian