Anneka LenssenFeb 28, 2022
Modern Painting and Politics in Syria
University of California Press 2020
Beautiful Agitation: Modern Painting and Politics in Syria (University of California Press, 2020), by Anneka Lenssen, focuses on modern art practice in Syria from 1900 to 1965 and the ways that artists sought to link their painting to life forces and agitated energies. Examining the works of artists Kahlil Gibran, Adham Ismail, and Fateh al-Moudarres, Beautiful Agitation explores how painters in Syria activated the mutability of form to rethink relationships of figure to ground, outward appearance to inner presence, and self to world. Drawing on archival materials in Syria and beyond, Lenssen reveals new trajectories of painterly practice in a twentieth century defined by shifting media technologies, moving populations, and the imposition of violently enforced nation-state borders. The result is a study of Arab modernism that foregrounds rather than occludes efforts to agitate against imposed identities and intersubjective relations.
Holiday Powers is Assistant Professor of Art History at VCUarts Qatar. Her research focuses on modern and contemporary art in Africa and the Arab world, postcolonial theory, and gender studies.