Rethinking traditional materials so prevalent in Arab sculptural practice, such as marble, wood and bronze, is because, Bassel Saadi explains, he “wanted to create works that were technically good, but made out of a ‘poor’ material with great potential… It was very much about questioning how we, in the Arab world, value an artwork.”
Born in Beirut, Syrian artist Bassel Saadi (1971) studied at the Institute of Applied Arts in Damascus. Early in his career, he researched and developed artworks around the idea of the human head, then slowly began to abstract his work into the flat forms that he is known for today.
Originally modelled in paper, these origami-like forms are then transposed into steel. Under the weight of the metal, they still carry the lightness of the original paper medium. Saadi uses primary shapes, colours and even playful polka dots to break the flatness and stillness of the work. Arranging the shapes as assemblages, he plays with their composition and colour, sometimes even enlarging them to become monumental public sculptures. This contrast of aesthetics and material reminds Saadi of his own conflicting influences – what he refers to as “the person inside me who is tragic, and the other, a boy trying to reclaim his childhood.”
Bassel Saadi has shown his work in Amman, Berlin, Damascus, Dubai, Enschede and Paris. He has given sculpting workshops internationally and is the recipient of numerous awards from art festivals.