Egyptian painter Walid Taher reflects on liminal nature of life and death in new exhibition

Nevine Lamei, Monday 21 Mar 2022

Painter, illustrator and caricaturist Walid Taher is exhibiting 70 acrylic paintings in his new solo exhibition Fades Away, inspired by Lebanese-Australian poet Wadih Saadeh’s exploration of liminality, on display at TAM Gallery in 6th of October city.

Walid Taher

“Fast passers-by are beautiful. They do not leave a shadow. Maybe a little dust… A dust that will soon disappear,” writes Saadeh.

“This collection of poems made me wonder: who are these fast passers-by? Who can be these people that I meet while painting? A marginal poet, an expatriate on an extraordinary journey?" Walid Taher comments on his new exhibition.

He adds that Saadeh does not leave anyone indifferent.

"His poetic writings and essays are often absurd; they lead us to wisdom and meditation. Thus, my 70 paintings inspired by his poetry result from a reflection on the notion of passage. They are quick encounters with the passers-by of Saadeh, before they disappear, before they fade away."

Painting and poetry have lived together for a long time. The first is structured in space and the second takes place in time. Taher was inspired by the prose Fleeting Passages by the Lebanese poet Wadih Saadeh.

Free from any constraint, from any logic, Taher plays on the space/time relationship, but also on the beauty/action and feeling/word relationship.

It is this beauty of absence, of obliteration, that Taher tries to capture through his colored acrylics.

His paintings do not leave one indifferent. They capture our souls after the loss of places, senses, loved ones and oneself.

The artist seeks beauty in all that is ugly, the positivity in all that is depressing. He evokes the beauty of departure, self-sacrifice, fleeting feelings, memories, confusion, grief... of a past, of an encounter.

Garish colours and tumult of characters

Always faithful to a flamboyant palette and an irony capable of stimulating the imagination, Walid Taher has mastered his tools perfectly and his artistic language has grown stronger over the years.

With time, he has become increasingly daring. Even his work, which can seem improvised, has something well studied, an informal, irregular lyrical abstraction. His creatures constantly escape from each other; they wander separated on the web, but have an inevitable alliance.

Taher cites the titles of his paintings: The Guardian Angel, Deja vu, Venus, Marseille, Sultan, The Absent, The Port, Beirut, Godiva - these are meditative images of the wind, boats, smoke, spirits, perfumes, cats, dogs, water, time, space, spleen, mourning and death.

For him, death is celebrated as another possibility to exist, to dance, to sing, to say and to find oneself. The same goes with Saadeh, where death occurs as the fulfillment of a disturbing void, carrying movement and therefore life.

Thus, in the paintings of Walid Taher, we follow the movement of shooting stars, trees, bicycles and birds within a country house or watching them from a window in the city.

“I tried to recover the crumbs of the loss. Today the world is lost. We experience moments of insensitivity, indifference and emotional flatness, especially with the breakthrough of Facebook and other cultural changes,” clarifies Taher.

He continues: “Usually, I like to create from a source of inspiration, a need, a stimulus. The works inspired by Saadeh's poems are always located at the junction of two well-matched contrasts. It is life as I see it."

For him, freedom is emptiness. However, his paintings leave almost no empty space.

“The state of mental uncertainty, anxiety, indecision and doubt is essential for me to create,” says the artist.

Again, he expresses differently the ideas of Wadih Saadeh who writes: “Sometimes I have the very strong impression that men live without bodies. They continue to live as long as they search for their bodies. And when they stop believing in it, they die. (…) O Wadih, it is not beautiful that you lie like this in eternity without dreaming."

Taher's paintings reflect this interminable wait, this long pause.

The exhibition, which opened earlier this month, continues until 2 April.

TAM Gallery’s hours of operation are 10am-5pm daily (except Fridays). It is located at kilometre 28, Cairo-Alexandria desert road Abou-Rawash.

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