Following a 2014 critically acclaimed retrospective at Ayyam Gallery Dubai (11 Alserkal Avenue) - which travelled to the Beirut Exhibition Center in 2015 - Halaby produced a new series of paintings with several directives in mind. Illuminated Space highlights the artist’s latest experiments in abstraction, which unfolded over the course of two years.
The initial works of the series reflect her interest in biomorphic forms, abstract shapes inspired by the contours of living organisms. In paintings like Flowers (2015), for example, Halaby focuses on the soft edges of plant life by incorporating shading, and arrives at varying degrees of luminosity with contrasting hues.
The suggestion of radiating light in Flowers developed into an exploration of what she describes as ‘the space of light.’ For Halaby, luminosity in her paintings emerges from, ‘The ambiances we see; be they dark night, evening light, or others—all are illuminated by types of light sources with their various colour relationships.’ The artist approached the concept of luminosity based on the ‘relative saturation’ that is found in the abstract paintings of Mark Rothko and Ad Reinhardt.
Halaby’s thoughts on color space are combined with an earlier focus on the soft and hard edges that are experienced in urban environments, which prompted her 2010 series Trees and the High Rising City. Her recent canvases, such as Chinatown (2016), take her Lower Manhattan neighbourhood as its point of reference once again, this time with a greater emphasis on the interplays of light (natural and artificial) that shape the city. Halaby ( Palestine, b. 1963)