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Simone Fattal: Unearthed History

09.06.2019 |

Simone Fattal, Le Grand Renversement 1948, 2012, collage, 113 x 95 cm, Courtesy Simone Fattal & Balice Hertling, Paris ; Karma International, Zurich / Los Angeles ; kaufmann repetto, Milan / New York ; Galerie Tanit, Munich / Beirut © Photo: Flavio Karrer

From 31 March to 2 September 2019, MoMA PS1 is hosting the first ever monographic exhibition devoted to artist Simone Fattal (b. 1942) in the United States. Spread out over nine rooms and comprising some 200 pieces, Works and Days retraces five decades of the artist’s production.

As showcased throughout the retrospective, the polymorphic work of Paris-based 77-year-old Lebanese-American artist S. Fattal is rife with historical and archaeological references. Fattal started her career as a painter in Lebanon, where she created abstract renditions of the light hitting Mount Sannine, after which she chose to study sculpture in California. She later took up ceramics in France, formalised hand in hand with Hans Spinner in Grasse. These painted and sculpted pieces are shown alongside lesser-known collages.

Simone Fattal: Unearthed History - AWARE Artistes femmes / women artists

Installation view Simone Fattal: Works and Days, MoMA PS1, New York, 31 March – 2 September 2019, © Photo: Matthew Septimus

The layout chosen at MoMA PS1 highlights the continuity of the artist’s work and its evolution. Earlier painted works and later pieces are exhibited in series, and underline her pronounced interest in her country of birth. Her chromatic and stylistic variation, inspired by its geological motifs, paints a true ode to Lebanon.
Her sculptures, on the other hand, are exhibited following a formal, rather than chronological, order. They showcase the artist’s persistent preoccupations, with series of standing bodies, architectural forms, and objects associated with everyday household life: pots, vases, dishes, and cups.

Simone Fattal: Unearthed History - AWARE Artistes femmes / women artists

Simone Fattal, Le Grand Renversement 1948, 2012, collage, 113 x 95 cm, Courtesy Simone Fattal & Balice Hertling, Paris ; Karma International, Zurich / Los Angeles ; kaufmann repetto, Milan / New York ; Galerie Tanit, Munich / Beirut © Photo: Flavio Karrer

But the magic truly operates when the sculptures and pictures are seen as a whole, and therefore give us a clear overview of the artist’s inspirations. Driven by a constant preoccupation with history and its archaeological vestiges, S. Fattal unearths ancient and mythical narratives and transposes them in a style that may seem primitive at first sight, but which in many ways resonates with today’s world. This convergence is even more manifest in her collages, such as Alexander the Great (2011), which combine, in the manner of visual poems, pictorial elements of her own making with old photographs from her collection and contemporary images.

Simone Fattal: Unearthed History - AWARE Artistes femmes / women artists

Installation view Simone Fattal: Works and Days, MoMA PS1, New York, 31 March – 2 September 2019, © Photo: Matthew Septimus

At the intersection of such a diversity of forms, Ruba Katrib, the curator of the exhibition, has chosen to add a video self-portrait, filmed in 1971 at the artist’s studio, which in itself is the product of both found footage and a contemporary outlook. The project, which consisted in filming a free flowing conversation between Simone Fattal and a group of friends, was never published and remained in storage in a drawer for years before eventually being edited by Eugénie Paultre on the occasion of an exhibition at the Arnaud Lefebvre Gallery in 2012.

Works and Days falls in line with other exhibitions that have highlighted the artist’s work these past few years. After a retrospective in Rochechouart in 2017 and a public commission inaugurated this year at the National Museum of Qatar in Doha, S. Fattal will be the focus of events in several countries, including Belgium, Switzerland, and Italy.

 

Simone Fattal: Works and Days, from 31 March to 2 September 2019, MoMA PS1 (New York, United States).

How to cite this article:
Mathilde Hivert, "Simone Fattal: Unearthed History." In Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions magazine, . URL : https://awarewomenartists.com/en/magazine/simone-fattal-une-histoire-exhumee/. Accessed 23 July 2019
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