by Laure Ghorayeb
Sara Badr Schmidt is showing 12 works "without borders" at the Agial Gallery (rue Abdel Aziz) in Beirut. They include light boxes and digital photos printed on canvas, each in three copies.
The artist is the daughter of a Lebanese father and a Swedish mother. Her works are inspired by nature, which extends well beyond the borders of the artwork, and suffused in grey, cloudy atmospheres, lit invisibly as from within. We see words in them, prisoners of monochrome backgrounds, stripped of design, mark and form. The style does not conform to the public's traditional perception of art. The word "kof" ("stop") in red, from which all artifice has been removed, appears against a violet-blue background, like a carpet woven of a single color, as if the word were lifted out of its boundaries.
Her vistas do not capture a specific country but, rather, places throughout Europe, Asia, Africa and Lebanon. They draw the viewer's eye, urging us on to different climates. This may create a sense of tranquility for some and compassion among others.
The artist takes her inspiration from sky and water. She scatters grey clouds across the sky and striates it with flashes of light, evoking stormy days when the sun appears only rarely. She offers the skies of East and West, as well as words in different languages, lending the subject a specific geographic identity. The words are few, found here and there, unsystematically. We encounter them with each visual, which remains imprinted on our gaze until the next. The marks intertwine and their scope expands, as if they were reaching beyond the visible. These are not just words in Arabic, Latin or Asian languages.
Encountering Sara Badr Schmidt's art is an interesting experience because her elegant and original work allows us the freedom to choose among interpretations. And the eye never tires.