Shadows of Places - Suhail Sami Nader
Shadows of Places
That which artist Delair Shaker conceals is more than what he reveals in his artwork as Shaker persists in constructing art pieces that are not confined by a single narrative, even when they are inspired by a very specific and personal incident.
Art condenses experiences. Shaker's manner in doing this is through using a variety of fabrics to express his multilayered ideas. Fabrics reflect the colors of emotions as they are made of different substances. However, what is important to Shaker is his artistic processing of fabrics to construct a painting that carries aesthetic significance. This trait was clearly observed in his previous works; as for his recent art pieces, he tends to preserve his old style yet combines it with a new level of emotional expressions pertaining to his personal experience in reflecting on places as an immigrant. Shaker tries to attribute fabrics the significant details of his battle with life.
What is apparent in Shaker's new experiences is remnants of random architectures that are almost traceless except for their shadows, some bits and pieces, and a few blueprints. These places are inhibited and then abandoned; their dwellers are mere passersby. Such places are temporary entities, merely pointed at from a distance and referred to as there.
Shaker is able to condense places, distances, and homes located on patches of different fabric patterns that appear as landscape blueprints, railroad tracks, and lines; their beginning and ending points are ambiguous, yet what is sure is that these are abandoned. They are memories of life and memories of departure: temporary possessions that have become scattered shards of memory for the artist who portrays them in motion, stemming from burning points and returning to these in a futile manner. Shaker finds it suffice to paint a symbolic map of the paths that leads to these places/memories.
Many of Shaker's works locate burning points in the center. Such a location seems to fit the psychoanalysis run by the artist, where the heart is at the center. And although we may disagree with him in seeing destruction at the center of matters, he is entitled to express his emotional experience in form of a broken heart at the center, where he replaces physical space with biological and emotional space at the center of matters. According to the artist, the heart is occupied and burdened despite pumping life into the body. It is twice devastated: as a place in form of his unidentifiable city, and as a lover who seeks forgetfulness yet is visited by memories.
There is heavy symbolic meaning in Shaker's works. At one level, place is fixated at the heart of his memory. At another level, place is the throbbing pulse he reaches for to measure. Nevertheless, both are emotional choices he makes. Accordingly, Shaker's artistic processing and execution varies in how it represents the center of place, where is sometimes a hole, others a prison, or a burnt old place, or a location surrounded with barbed wire or marked somehow; these wires and marks expand to occupy other spaces. What is important, however, is that the artist who employed these used different techniques such as multilayering to give an obtrusive appearance and/or layering with wooden pieces that appears like sculpting. These techniques not only enhanced the ideas and emotions but also maintained a sense of harmony with them.
In his recent experience, Shaker presents us with new expressive potential. His paintings composed of wooden pieces evoked a sense of architecture. Perhaps his works that were executed with patience are a new derivation of his works that undertakes repetition as a compensation for varying fabrics that has characterized his works so far.
One of the aspects that make Shaker's experience unique is his care for detail in selecting different fabrics pertaining to color, application, employment of other media such as paper and wood, in addition to using photographic images. I believe his recent accomplishment added liveliness to his works and unified them.
Suhail Sami Nader