Leila Heller is pleased to announce “The Last Voyage” by Sumayyah Samaha, on view in New York from July 25th to August 31st.
In recent paintings and works on paper, Sumayyah Samaha uses oil, charcoal, and watercolor to tell her visual story. With each image, her goal is always to find harmony between these different media and the varied abstract forms that emerge from her playful, gestural approach.
Larger works, like “My 2nd Voyage, 2020”, may hang in Samaha’s live/work studio for months before they are complete. While sweeping, gestural lines in charcoal arc across canvases, Samaha paints, scrapes, erases and repaints the remaining surface with close attention as she develops an interplay between defined and undefined forms. Swaths of flat gradients are beside and behind free-form shapes, all floating upon a white background. Color, which abounds in Sahama’s work, is determined by the type of light she seeks to realize.
Samaha moves back and forth freely across her surfaces, using a vocabulary informed by an artistic career spanning 40+ years and a range of mediums—oil painting, charcoal, watercolor, paper making, ceramics, sculpture, pastels, and installation. She describes this body of work as “free, stream of consciousness painting.”
Sumayyah Samaha (b.1939. Shweir, Lebanon) is a Lebanese painter and mixed media artist who has lived and exhibited work in New York since the early 1980’s.
In addition to numerous solo exhibitions at 22 Wooster Gallery, Wilmer Jennings Gallery at Kenkeleba House, Denise Bibro Fine Art, and Skoto Gallery, Samaha also has an extensive group exhibition history at venues throughout the United States, Europe, and the Middle East.
Highlights include American Abstraction:A New Decade at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, Loretto, PA; New York Chronicles at the Virginia Common-wealth University School of the Arts, Qatar VCUQ Gallery, Doha, Qatar (2010); Art in Embassies, US Embassy, Kuwait City, Kuwait (2008-09); In/Visible: Contemporary Art by Arab American Artists — the opening exhibition of the Arab American National Museum and Cultural Center in Dearborn, Michigan (2005); and New York Collections 2002 at the Albright Knox Museum Gallery, Buffalo, NY (2002.)
Samaha’s work can be found in public collections that include the Arab American National Museum and Cultural Center in Dearborn, Michigan; Centrum Sztuki in Warsaw, Poland; Kenkeleba House in New York, NY; Pfizer Pharmaceutical in New York, NY; and Bank Audi in Beirut, Lebanon.
Publications include At the Edge of the City: Reinhabiting Public Space Toward the Recovery of Beirut’s Horsh Al-Sanawar, edited by Fadi Shayya; Encyclopedia of Arab American Artists by Fayeq Oweis; and The Women Artists in Lebanon, by Helen Khal, prepared for the Institute of Women’s Studies in the Arab World.
Samaha was a Co-Founder of 22 Wooster Gallery in New York (1978-1988), has participated in panels, including Turning Writing into Art: Artists Talk on Art at New York University’s Department of Middle Eastern Studies, and was a juror of painting for the New York Foundation of the Art’s 1998 grant season. Awards include grants from the Pollock Krasner Foundation (2016) and the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation (2015). Samaha is a two time resident at the Emily Harvey Foundation Residency in Venice, Italy.