Aisha Alabbar is pleased to present I Write in Colour, the first solo exhibition of the artist at the gallery. Dr. Makki is considered one of the innovators of the local scene and has contributed to the complexity and richness of its artistic expression through her experimentation with color compositions and the use of fluorescent paints. Makki’s consuming intrigue by the semantics of color and her skillful brush were harnessed at a young age, when she would witness the colormap of vivid herbs laid out in sacks at her father’s spice shop. Thyme, henna, saffron and curcumin lured her in, presenting a new dawn of shade, texture and scent. To this day, Makki’s practice is marked by daring surveys of new natural and synthetic materials, influenced by her reading of philosophy, poetry and her affinity for music. At times, she opts for large scrolls where paint bounces like music notes or rhythmic prose in melodic harmony.
Makki’s fondness and resonance with nature are palpable. Spending her college years digging her hands in soil to knead and mold clay in order to create her sculptures, she instantly recognized mankind’s oneness with nature. This opened her up to a visual palette that encompasses warm earthy hues and cyan blue skies; velvety purple supernovae explosions and cosmic green; deep oceanic turquoise and granite greys. What inspired her in color, followed in form: the radiance of circular suns and moons, the brilliance of crescents, the precision of hexagonal beehives, the triangular mountain peaks and sand dunes, the color gradient in bodies of water and stretches of land. These elusive properties of the natural world are captured and transfigured onto canvas through color and form, creating a hymn that synthesizes her deeply personal transient experiences of natural phenomena with universal seismic shifts.
Nowhere is her fascination with life-giving and nurturing aspects of nature more visible than in the female figures defiantly breaking up her swaths and strokes of color. Depicted in simple, abstract lines, mostly in profile and collectively gathered, Makki borrows from Ancient Egyptian relief carvings of female deities and mythological figures that embody tranquil stability, wisdom, strength and rebirth. Upon a commission from the Sharjah Art Museum, she furthered her curiosity for excavating the artistic potential of the unseen by establishing a name for these figures: Venus of Meleiha. Inspired by the Meleiha Fort in Sharjah where hundreds of coins and molds with the heads of figures from ancient civilizations were discovered, her mind journeys back in history to conjure up images of the females in these bygone eras. The celebratory figures are unabashed in presence to make up for what she perceived was lacking in the representation of women in society.
She has also maintained a visual journal which she called Daily Diaries (2015—ongoing). Made of leftover scraps of paper and excess paint from her larger works, these miniature, sketch-like paintings capture an observation, a mood, a fleeting thought. Like a daily ritual, it allows her to study different textures, patterns, compositions and concepts without the restraint of an end product. The storyteller journals in words, but Makki writes in color.