“Nicolas Moufarrege: Recognize My Sign”

Queens Museum, Queens
Oct 23 2019-Feb 16 2020
The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH) is pleased to announce the upcoming exhibition Nicolas Moufarrege: Recognize My Sign. During a career that lasted just over a decade, Nicolas Moufarrege (1947-1985) created an original and idiosyncratic body of embroidered paintings. Nicolas Moufarrege: Recognize My Sign—the artist’s first solo museum exhibition—traces the development of his work from the lap-scaled portrait-tapestries he produced in Beirut, Lebanon in the early-1970s to the final works he created in New York City, New York in 1985. This exhibition is organized by CAMH Curator Dean Daderko. The Museum will host a public opening reception on the evening of Friday, November 9, 2018 from 6:30–9 PM. The exhibition will be on view through February 17, 2019. As always, admission to CAMH is free.

A dedicated appropriator, Moufarrege culled images from a broad and vast sourcebook; his embroidered paintings mix references from Classical sculptures and Baroque paintings with comic book heroes, Islamic tilework designs, Pop Art, and Arabic calligraphy. He borrowed images from paintings and prints by artists such as Katsushika Hokusai, Edvard Munch, Pablo Picasso, and especially Roy Lichtenstein. If appropriation provided the artist with raw subject matter, it is his pointed juxtapositions of images that most clearly reveal Moufarrege’s wit and thoughtful intelligence: his stitched paintings tell stories.

The artist’s move to New York City in 1981 initiated yet another sea change in his approach to imagery and composition, coinciding, as it did, with the advent of postmodern tactics of appropriation. Where his earlier works referenced figures borrowed from Baroque prints and paintings by Guido Reni or Peter Paul Rubens, Moufarrege’s New York paintings juxtapose images with a more sharply critical and humorous eye. In one iconic work, Title unknown, (1984), a stylized wave adopted from a woodblock print by Hokusai is positioned in the upper left corner of a painted embroidery canvas, and Moufarrege copies an image of a Lichtenstein painting into the bottom right corner of the same canvas. The portrait of a heroine sinking into deep waters includes a thought bubble announcing, “I don’t care! I’d rather sink–than call Brad for help!” In Moufarrege’s juxtaposition of the two images, the wave appears perpetually ready to swamp the already drowning woman. The Truth About John the Baptist (1983) is a pastiche of embroidered images: the comic book characters Silver Surfer and The Thing bookend a depiction of Moses in the bulrushes; floating atop the scene, the statement “My father taught me Arabic calligraphy” is rendered in calligraphic flourishes. Eschewing binaries like East and West, fictional and real, and by establishing temporal connections between history and the present, Moufarrege posits new ways to connect with and approach narrative storytelling. He does so as a knowing provocateur, with a wink and a smile, offering us new ways to address images, situations, and layered identity.

Venue name: Queens Museum
Address:Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, Queens, 11368
Transport: Subway: 7 to Mets–Willets Pt

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