On February 28th to March 1st, Summer Alireza held her exhibition “Encounters” at boutique Sabine Nada in Jeddah. Drawing inspiration from nature and Islam, while transmitting an inconspicuous yearning for yesteryear, Summer Alireza’s work reflects her profound connection and artistic acumen for the world surrounding her.
“What you may know as the Last Supper,” clarifies Summer on her recent artwork, “is in fact what has been titled as The First Supper, it is actually an interpretation of the latter in a modern Arab way.” Summer has a unique ability of taking something banal and rendering it anew with her special jene says quoi. “The idea behind the painting came about while discussing various ways to portray the company’s [in the restaurant industry] vision. It developed into a modern correlation of the Last Supper with an Arabic theme and feel.”
One stylistic element common to all her work is the natural infusion of Summer’s maverick nature in all her artistic interpretations. If Andy Warhol were to paint the Kaba’a, it might look something like Summer’s exposé Abstracted Makkah. Vibrant colors elicit a sense of whimsical spherical movement and dimensional angularity, all the while emitting a subtle silent serenity. Daring to portray Islam’ smost recognizable icon, Summer wholeheartedly digested her subject and shared something all modern Muslims wheat tune to their artistic side can relate to; “I do tend to add a sense of controversy to my work. But it’s up to the viewer to find that contentious twist in it, it’s not that obvious.”
Abstracted Makkah conjures a sense of juxtapose one usually doesn’t experience in Makkah; the area around the Kaba’a is empty rather than compact with avid worshipers and the surrounding buildings are somewhat transparent creating a feeling of openness and unity. “I try to explore a smuch as I can in painting; at this point I’m having fun with my work, trying a variety of techniques and methods and seeing where I land and where it takes me.”
Summer’s overt sentiment for fun, is covertly under-toned in her subject matters. Burst of Nature explodes with confetti of striking color, while the subject itself permeates many sacred meanings such as respect for heritage, quest for knowledge, and love of life.
Summer’s panache extends across all subjects fortunate to undergo her artistic rendering. Peering into her ‘toolkit,’ filled with knives, sponges and scalpelesque objects, it’s obvious that even the most finite of details throughout her artistic process tend to experience the same vigour and spontaneity, even if just deciding upon her current creative instrument of choice. This attention to detail leads Summer to ponder, “You know, I don’t believe a work of art is ever done. It can always be better…always. It’s never finished.”
One of those incomplete works of art, though unapparent to the uninformed, has undergone the sponge, the scalpel, and had itself smothered with sand to give that glisten to the ephemeral that is Tranquillity at War. “History has always been a part of my work. I do enjoy the opportunity to capture the past as a work of art—it gives me a chance to put my own interpretation on history. You can see this in the painting with horses of the battle of King Abdul Aziz, where I chose to bring serenity and calm into a moment of war, through the use of color combined with texture.”
While musing upon the redundant question of what her work offers society, rhetorical indeed because clearly she offers so much, modestly Summer admits, “I don’t know what my work could offer society, but I do hope my paintings capture a reality people can identify with. Or even a fantasy they relate to. As far as what my paintings can offer, I do wish to bring a smile to those who view my work. ”Rest assured Summer, your effervescent colors touching on the homegrown give art aficionados alike something to ruminate, something to touch, and something to smile about.