Open lecture:Riet Wijnen

Photo from the personal archive of Saloua Raouda Choucair, reproduction by Christopher Baaklini

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On Tuesday, March 14 at 17.30, Amsterdam-based artist Riet Wijnen will speak about her current research into the life and practice of painter and sculptor Saloua Raouda Choucair (1916–2017), one of the first abstract artists in Lebanon.

Choucair’s interests included genetic science, the infinite, the Arabic poetry form Qasida and Sufi philosophy. According to her, the Islamic rejection of the pictorial image led to the essential search for what one wanted to express, and was for her a fundamental way to understand Arabic intellectual thinking which she translated a.o. into abstract sculptures and paintings.

Wijnen visited the estate in Choucair’s last apartment in the Qatari neighbourhood in Beirut. There she was confronted by a large amount of works, photos and documents in French and Arabic, languages she does not speak, write nor read. This visit led to her development of non-linguistic research methods, an inquiry into how one might “speak nearby”* and position themselves in the work. Wijnen will share works and tools currently in development: a publication, sculptural dinnerware and a series of fermentation pots. These works will also feed into a fictional conversation with Choucair, which is part of a long term cycle, since 2015, titled Sixteen Conversations on Abstraction.
*Trinh T. Minh–ha

Riet Wijnen (b. 1988, Venray, NL, lives in Amsterdam) is an artist whose practice involves sculpture, photograms, text, woodcuts and more recently type design. She is interested in incomplete histories of abstraction, what and who are already registered in history, along with the known and unknown ways of making history. To do this, she looks to elders, and in her work hosts practitioners from the past and present who have been active in the field of art during early modernism, or in science, philosophy, education and activism. She brings the practitioners together in fictional conversations and sculptures to reconsider histories and better understand what comes next. Wijnen uses perception, language and organisational structures.

This research comes together in the cycle Sixteen Conversations on Abstraction (2015) and publications related to language and biographies of female identifying modernists that provide sources for Wijnen’s practice while functioning independently. Publications include: Saloua Raouda Choucair (2023), Homophone Dictionary (2019), Grace Crowley (2019), Abstraction Création: Art non-figuratif (reprint and translation) (2014) and Marlow Moss (2013).

Wijnen has had solo exhibitions at venues including Kunstverein Milano (2022), Manifold Books, Amsterdam (2019); Lumen Travo, Amsterdam (2018); P/////AKT, Amsterdam (2016) and Dolores, Ellen de Bruijne Projects, Amsterdam (2015). She was a resident at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten (2017–18), the Van Doesburg Huis in Paris (2022), EKWC in Oisterwijk, NL (2023) and has participated in groups shows at, among others, SculptureCenter, New York; 21st Biennale of Sydney; John Hansard Gallery, Southampton; The Center for Contemporary Art & Culture at PNCA, Portland; Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons, Utrecht; and Index – The Swedish Contemporary Art Foundation, Stockholm. Wijnen teaches in the Graphic Design and TXT department of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam.

The lecture is in English. Riet Wijnen is in EKA to have tutorials with students from Contemporary Art MA and Graphic Design MA programs.

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Posted by Anu Vahtra

Contemporary ArtGraphic Design Open Lectures