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Nabil Nahas

© ArtNet Worldwide 1997
david ebony's
new york top ten

Nabil Nahas
at Sperone Westwater

Jan. 11-Feb. 15, 1997

Nabil Nahas, a New York artist born in Beirut, shows richly textured abstract paintings that look like fantastically colored coral reefs. He blends pure pigment and ground pumice into a pasty substance that he forms into crusty layers of contrasting colors. Like some phosphorescent growths in a tropical sea garden, the fungus-like material is built upon a ground of canvas covered in dried starfish. Believe it or not. Orion is an approximately 6 x 5 ft. canvas, whose intricate, deep blue and green crevices are trimmed by brilliant yellow. One of the largest and most captivating works on view is Mars and Venus. Here, bright red and yellow highlights help convey a sense of obsessive passion suggested by that title. Nahas's all-over compositions, however, are carefully calculated to keep such passions under control. My favorite painting, Mercury, a shimmering quicksilver gray and blue work, is similarly wild and restrained, a credible messenger of the gods.