Words and photos by Andrea Garcia-Vargas
Just when everyone thinks artists have exhausted experimental mediums, Jordanian artist Rawan Kakish takes the art of the collage and gives it a twist in her new exhibition “City|Thirdspace” this month at the Foresight32 Gallery, featuring mostly urban scenes.
With a background in architecture from the Jordan University of Science and Technology, Kakish, 28, furthered her study of Art at the School of Visual Arts in New York and New York University, and has participated in local and international workshops and exhibitions, such as her 2010 “Voices in the Gallery” and this year’s “a shout out to my city II,” also presented at Foresight. City | Thirdspace is another genius continuation of her artistic sensibilities.
Kakish’s technique is different than, say, a collage of an airplane made up of millions bit of paper torn from deodorant advertisements and Red Carpet dresses. Rather, she has collected the separate parts – the rooftops, the road, the taxis – from different magazines and newspapers, pasting several pieces together to make the picture whole again – except that the rooftop will be sepia, there will be a floral-patterned rectangle instead of a window, the skies will have Arabic calligraphy peeking from the clouds, and balconies will be highlighted a bright mustard yellow.
Figure 1: Hybrid City III
Some of the features seem haphazard but in fact, Kakish is trying to play with our sense of two-dimensional and three-dimensional spaces. In “Living Spaces,” our eyes travel from right to left along the shaded in quadrilaterals and the shadows before suddenly hitting the side of a building pasted with florals without any shading and then a building in a very faded and flat yellow.
Figure 2: Living Edges
Rawan Kakish takes the medium a step further and defies the idea that a collage is only made from paper – she includes three pieces made up entirely of wood blocks arranged in a 5 by 8 fashion. Over the entire expanse, the outlines of the figures are continuous but the colors are not. “Existence III” portrays a man working at his machine with a left blue shoulder, a right dark grey one, a partially red toolbox, and a ceiling ranging from blocks of off-white to dirty beige and black.
Figure 3: Existence III
Kakish then gives the collage another twist, proving that you don’t need separate pieces of whatever material you’re using to make one. “Identity VII” portrays a kiosk painted on a single block of wood. Looking closer, you can see that most of the right half of the wood block is lightly tinted in yellow, with another thin yellow strip on the left. A thinly-painted red rectangle stands at the center top and the remaining sections have green and sepia undertones. In this way, Kakish succeeds in subtly dividing the block into sections without cutting it up.
Figure 4: Identity VII
Despite the quirky features and untraditional method of portrayal, none of the “City|Thirdspace” pieces look distracting. The collages blend in seamlessly, each composite scrap of paper – or wood blocks, or blocks of colors – fitting roughly but snugly into the others like an unconventional jigsaw puzzle.
The exhibition continues at Foresight32 Gallery until July 31. More info here.