The vision of the figure in Joseph Harb’s exhibition is defragmented. The “parts” are raw. The expression is direct and brutal. The treatment is callous, straightforward, and experimental.
The narration and re-narration are left to the imagination of the beholder. The spectators are forced in the position of the “witness” of the ghastly dissection of a body, their body?
After the explosion of the 4th of August, which seems to have passed in the annals of sufferings for many Lebanese enduring, every day, new calamities; this show may raise anguish, recall stressful memories and induce pain. Harb digs into his own soul offering the raw reality of the state of things.
An expert in assemblage, Harb looks at our social and physical condition by examining his own existence. The figure is a “figuration” of the self, the individual and the collective. Harb confesses that he “watches life as a theater,” always questioning what is real and what could be fiction - existentialist questions, which keep surfacing.
These artworks are “trials”, queries, in attempts to question rather than to define our actual state of existence. His sculptures are marked by the intimacy of his manipulations. Clay is the substance of flesh. Even plaster is modeled by hand. They face us with the same frankness as the brushstrokes of his paintings. They force reflections, excite the imagination and raise questions. They are “possibilities” in the eye of the artist. Yet, upon the contemplation of the works, every element seems to have found its surface, its dimensions and its precise placement. Complexity in Harb’s artworks finds its expression through simple and direct means. Yet, they remain structurally and pictorially intriguing by their frankness.
The sculptures alternate between the fragment, which is represented as a monument dedicated to the gods of destruction, the complete figures dedicated to the goddess of love: Venus, and the figure encompassing its immediate space. Harb’s pieces fall short of attaining any final refinement. The propos is to point to this stressful shift in time and space, never attaining “perfection.”
The paintings in the exhibition reflect at, yet, another state of figuration of the body, meditative or serene. The paintings place the figure as fragments, elements in space and time. The human representations are also conceived as “parts” in their construction. Fiction and reality are, here, put in question. Harb is allowing himself to speak on our behalf. He is not in denial. He addresses the beast that is bound to peak out in these hard circumstances. Another painting series addresses the brutal force in different reinstatements of the Bull.
These “narratives” by Joseph Harb speak of being “Here and Now.” They are constructs, restatements of his sensitivity and vision.
The exhibition was extended until May 20, 2022.