“In the city, memories of the past were shaped into cultures”, says Lebanese sculptor, painter and architect, Nadim Karam. “It is up to us to sustain the stories of the past and create new stories that fuse with the unique sounds, views, smells, tastes and textures of our cities...”
Karam describes his playful steel sculptures, which enliven public spaces from London and Prague to Melbourne and Tokyo, as “urban toys” or “dream catalysts”. These whimsical pieces inject a touch of fantasy into the drabbest of urban environments, raising a smile on the grey faces of commuters. Born in Senegal, raised in Lebanon and educated in Japan, Karam's exposure to a medley of cultures feed into his unique, idiosyncratic visual language. Now based in Beirut where his architectural practice, Atelier Hapsitus, is located (although he is also building a studio, The Muse, in the Lebanese mountains) Karam is currently enjoying his first major solo exhibition in London, Urban Stories at The Fine Art Society on New Bond Street until 19 May.
Dreams and Journeys (detail). 2017. Nadim Karam
Urban Stories is a retrospective, looking back at Karam’s multidisciplinary practice over the past two decades. At the heart of the show is the sculpture Trou de Memoire, which is, in fact, two circular works, Memory and Void, placed opposite each other and, as the name suggests, dwelling on the artist’s recollections of the past. But alongside this, and other sculptures, are paintings from his Toys and Stretching Thoughts series, and, a highlight, over 40 unseen works on paper from his 1993 sketchbook, full of weird and wonderful humanoid-animalesque forms, which were the basis of his Archaic Procession series.
Nadim Karam: Urban Stories runs until 19 May at The Fine Art Society, London. thefineartsociety.com