Feature Articles

May 2013

Columbia Museum of Art in Columbia, SC, Features Works by Steven Naifeh

The Columbia Museum of Art in Columbia, SC, will present Found in Translation: The Art of Steven Naifeh, featuring the first retrospective exhibition of contemporary works by this SC based artist, on view from May 17 through Sept. 1, 2013.

The 26 large-scale works of modern art reflect Naifeh’s personal taste, preferences and attitudes about geometric abstraction that developed over the span of 40 years. It is hardly surprising that Naifeh’s childhood in the Middle East educated his eye to the rigorous forms of Arab and Islamic art. The artist was born in Iran, the son of American diplomats. He spent his childhood in a succession of Foreign Service postings spread across three continents in the Islamic world. Enriched by his Lebanese heritage and his time living in the Islamic and Arab worlds, Naifeh has shown an extraordinary ability to integrate the influences of these distant and timeless cultures into the global culture of today.

This exhibition inspires visitors with a deeper understanding of the art of the Middle East, Northern India, and Northern Africa. In his art, Naifeh achieves a synthesis of West and East as well as old and new, a blending of cultures recognized early on in the art he made here in America. His work represents universal harmony and attains this geometric symmetry beautifully with intellectual discipline, rigorous skill and authentic joy in the process of communication.

Found in Translation is destined to inspire our community and open doors to understanding cultures beyond our own. It shows visitors that what we share culturally is perhaps greater than what separates us. Abstract art is capable of expressing complex ideas like unity and continuity.

“We all need to understand more about the world in which we live, and Naifeh’s exhibition is a smart, vibrant way of encountering Middle Eastern ideas,” CMA Chief Curator, Will South, said.

Naifeh has exhibited work throughout the Islamic world including Abu Dhabi, Jordan, Pakistan and the Muslim cities of Kano and Kaduna in Nigeria. He studied art with the Nigerian artist Bruce Onobrakpeya. He also studied contemporary art with Sam Hunter, former curator of the Museum of Modern Art and the Jewish Museum, and he studied Islamic art with Oleg Grabar and Cary Welch.

With his co-author, Gregory White Smith, he has also written 18 books, including five New York Times bestsellers. Recently, they published the biography, Van Gogh: The Life, which was recently featured on CBS 60 Minutes. The book was featured on several best book lists for 2011 in The New York Times, The Economist, The Washington Post and was the Sunday Times of London’s Best Art Book of the Year. The CMA hosted Naifeh for a lecture and book signing in January 2012.

The exhibition’s sponsors include: Mrs. Joyce Martin Hill, Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP, Dr. Gregory J. Wych, Dr. Suzan D. Boyd and Mr. M. Edward Sellers, Mrs. Carol C. Saunders, Dr. Carolyn Kressler-Greenburg and Dr. Stanley H. Greenburg, The Clarion Hotel and The Hilliard Family Foundation, Inc.

A full-color, 135-page catalogue complements the exhibition and features a conversation between the artist and CMA Chief Curator Will South. This publication is designed to enhance your CMA experience and provide insight on some of the artist’s most famous works. The catalogue is available for purchase in the Museum Shop and online at (www.columbiamuseum.org).

Inspired by the exhibition Found In Translation: The Art of Steven Naifeh, Eau Claire community members, CMA Passport to Art participants and CMA Spring Workshop students created paper and tile mosaics based on the concepts of simple geometry. Their works are on view beginning Tuesday, June 11 in the exhibit Geometric Visions, in the Interactive Education Gallery, through Aug. 11, 2013.

For further information check our SC Institutional Gallery listings, call the Museum at 803/799-2810 or visit (www.columbiamuseum.org).

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