Saloua Raouda Choucair
Between the years 1963 and 1968, Saloua Raouda Choucair produced a number of sculptural works of various materials – such as wood, brass, clay, fiberglass, or aluminum – under the series title “Poems.” Earlier, in the 1950s, her interest in organically occurring systems of proportion had already prompted her to work with modular forms in her series “Trajectory of a Line.” In the two wooden “Poems” presented, the artist’s use of wood to create irregular, interlocking shapes represents a next step in her interrogation of the elemental building blocks of natural life. Inspired by Sufi poetry, wherein each stanza can be read either independently or as part of the entire poem, Choucair meant the individual blocks of these two sculptures to be both autonomous and dependent forms. With the ability to be removed, reconfigured, and reinserted back into the larger configuration, the two sculptures engage the viewer’s sense of play and invite interaction. But like all puzzles, they are ultimately based on a complex and deceptive logic whereby structural and aesthetic integrity can only be achieved through a predetermined arrangement. Although critics have sought to consider Choucair’s work within both constructivist and minimalist paradigms, Choucair eventually came to think of her use of individual and collective modules in relation to concepts of civil unity and fracture amid the looming tensions of 1970s Lebanon, the artist’s homeland.