27 Mar –
25 Apr 2021
Leaves of Grass
Leaves of Grass
DITTRICH & SCHLECHTRIEM is pleased to present LEAVES OF GRASS, the second solo show with the gallery in Berlin by FATMA SHANAN (b. 1986 in Julis, Israel / lives and works in Tel Aviv, Israel). The exhibition opens Saturday, 27 March and is on view currently by appointment only, through Saturday 25 April. We look forward welcoming you 7 days a week 11 AM – 6 PM.
A dozen oil paintings on canvas, both small and large- scale, comprise this intimate exhibition by Israel-based painter Fatma Shanan. In most of the works we see a female figure in an off-white dress—in frontal view, standing pensive and solitary in a verdant garden, tensely crouching or reclining on an undefined ground or arching backward over an outdoor fountain on a wall dappled with sunlight. Throughout this body of work, branches and flowers surround, embrace, or emanate from the strained movements or poses of the figure, a representation of the artist herself.
The title Leaves of Grass is borrowed from a volume by the American poet Walt Whitman, first published in 1855. As Whitmanisgenerallyinterpreted,eachleafofgrassisunique, but many blades together create an interconnected whole, a community. Fatma Shanan dives into her inner world to depict this existential duality, an ongoing allusion in her oeuv- re in part due to her upbringing in a Druze village in northern Israel.
With a signature technique in which contours, fabrics, petals and skin are rendered in loose brushstrokes and mosaic-like color application, Fatma Shanan explores an interior emotional landscape as she communes with her external natural environment, this time staking out new territory. The artist-figure attempts t o set down roots in this undefined natural space, or, alternately, grasps its branches and blossoms for grounding. At the same time these tendrils and branches appear to overtake her, sprouting from her body, even her face, like grass stubbornly growing through cracks in a sidewalk. A symbiosis, a transcendence, a resilience is implied. Fatma Shanan’s previous works revolved around depictions of a female body, often her own, in domestic, private spaces and using recurring motifs like the oriental carpet to represent physi- cal and psychological boundaries. Yet she now moves into a wider, wilder zone.
The floral beauty in these paintings is a nod to the art history the artist often refers to in her work. There is a brightness to these works, but their white or neutral grounds also signify a blankness, a potentiality. “Song of Myself,” the first poem in Whitman‘s Leaves of Grass, begin with these words: “I celebrate myself, and sing myself / And what I assume you shall assume / For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.” Even in liberty, there is belonging.
The above is an excerpt from the essay contributed by Kimberly Bradley for the exhibition catalogue published by the gallery, which will be available at the gallery in April 2021. An expanded catalog on Fatma Shanan, featuring this exhibition and additional works and essays, will be published by DISTANZ, and available Summer 2021.
For further information on the artist and the works or to request images, please contact Owen Clements, owen(at) dittrich-schlechtriem.com.
The exhibition is supported in part by Stiftung Kunstfonds NEUSTART KULTUR and by the Culture Department, Embassy of the State of Israel in Berlin.