JO magazine | City Monsters
May 13, 2010
A young architect finds inspiration in ruins, and mystery in the tense relationships between creation and destruction.
Words by John Lillywhite
“IT'S NOT THE BEAUTY as it's seen; it's the beauty of what's within,” says artist and architect Saba Innab. “Steel and concrete … and a city.”
So she describes her solo exhibition at Zara gallery for the month of May. Like other recent shows at Zara, Innab’s adopts a rather dystopian feel.
In line with Romanian artist Barbu Bejan, Innab's work concerns itself with the effect of the city on the psyche; what is described in the exhibition literature as the “dysfunctional internal structure of human civilizations.”
And, like Jordanian Bader Mahasneh, her work evokes loneliness and alienation. Just as Mahasneh's humans don’t look quite human, Innab’s cities are unfinished, not quite cities; a viewer can’t quite decide if they’ve been destroyed or are being built.
The work, produced in acrylics or mixed media on large wood panels, is confined to blacks, grays and whites. “I know it sounds weird,” the artist says, “but I hate colors.”
Saba cities are monsters: cracked and wounded, left to decay or waste away in emptiness. Still, they seem to own a mute, bestial sort of consciousness, sometimes melancholy at others times threatening. There is mystery in their decay and listlessness.
The artist’s favorite piece, “24,” is an acrylic-on-wood image of a concrete beam left abandoned, its insides spewing out into nothing.
“Sometimes one generation builds something, but loses interest, so that it becomes forgotten, just waiting for future inhabitants to finish what their ancestors had started.”
When we build, we also demolish.