Saloua Raouda Choucair – Curves, Lines and Sufi Poetry at the Tate

by rebeccaswirsky

salouda raouda

Visitors to this survey of Choucair’s work at the Tate Modern are invited to accompany the artist on a passionate, analytical journey, encompassing abstract gouache compositions, playful jewellery, mathematical stackable sculptures, and works in stone, nylon, ceramics, plastic and wood. Now in her nineth decade, Choucair is recognised as the Middle East’s leading exponent of abstractionism, and her artistic interrogations remain uncurbed by restriction to medium or form.

            Wooden and stone sculptures, moulded with fluid lines, offer resonance with Barbara Helpworth, while an awareness of mathematical and literary disciplines are navigated by a life-long commitment to the geometric designs of non-representational Middle-Eastern art.


One of Choucair’s most striking exhibits is a suite of sculptures entitled Poems, stackable structures seen in individual components or together, inspired by the unique stanza constructions reflected in Sufi poetry.

Poem 1963-5 by Saloua Raouda Choucair born 1916

            Room 4 investigates, through nylon and acrylic, the ‘trajectory of the line’ in all its translucent, precise beauty. During this period of output, the artist became interested in sculpting with water, examining kinetic energy and motion – although there were no examples on view of Choucair working in this medium.


Waterlens 1969–1971, detail

Choucair claimed that in another life she would have been an architect. It is to our benefit that she chose, in this one, to assert herself as an artist. While the Tate may be commended for its decision to hold an exhibition of Choucair’s work, this is a recognition long overdue. It’s to be hoped the art community catches up with this visionary artist, whose prodigious powers and life-long allegiance to art, and to forging a new path through modernism, should be matched with international fame.

This exhibition runs from April 17–October 20, 1013, at the Tate Modern, London.
Admission £10 (£8.50 concessions)
Open 10am to 6pm every day and 10pm on Friday and Saturday.
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