Figures in motion: Sahar Fakhoury’s latest collection comes to the Asheville Gallery of Art

ON THE MOVE: Sahar Fakhoury's latest collection explores human gestures and posture. The artist says many of the works display theatrical poses that function as a metaphor for the ways in which we present, and at times conceal, our true thoughts and intentions. Photo courtesy of Fakhoury

The human figure and its range of motion have always fascinated Asheville painter Sahar Fakhoury. She attributes this to her childhood in Salmiya, Kuwait, where she grew up an avid gymnast and dancer, as well as an aspiring artist. While her endeavors in the former two practices have since dropped off, her involvement in the visual arts continues to evolve.

Throughout April, Fakhoury’s latest collection, Imageries of Life, will be on display at the Asheville Gallery of Art. An opening reception will be held Friday, April 7, from 5 to 8 p.m.

“Her work is very unique because of her background,” says fellow artist and AGA co-op member Judith Rentner. “Her figures in motion and her studies of life, as it must have been in Kuwait, are very interesting.”

In 1990, Fakhoury, along with her husband and three daughters, fled the Middle East due to the Gulf War. “The relocation made me realize how fragile and vulnerable we can be,” she says. They settled in Asheville because her brother-in-law lived in the area.

Fakhoury says her first few years here were spent adjusting to a new life. Once she and her family found their footing, Fakhoury began attending workshops and live-drawing classes. She enrolled at UNC Asheville where, in 2005, at 45, she earned a degree in fine arts. “I’m glad that I’m an artist,” she says. “It helped emotionally to get out all my anger from the war. To lose your home isn’t an easy thing. Especially when you didn’t plan for it.”

Because of her experience, political and social subjects played a prominent role in Fakhoury’s early works. And while she notes that the current political climate has left her feeling “unstable because of my background,” her more recent focus has shifted away from politics. “I’m trying to look at the positive part of the human life,” she says.

Still, Fakhoury acknowledges that art is rarely apolitical. “Often it is a recording of history of some sort,” she says. This unique time capsule offers a reflection of a given period, as well as insight into the state of the arts.

“A lot of times the art movements are affected by the community’s political, social and economic state,” Fakhoury says. “This is universal, in my opinion, based on my observations while traveling.”

In this same way, Fakhoury adds, art unifies countries and cultures through these shared struggles. The landscapes might differ and the subjects might appear in unfamiliar garb, but the life experiences are what unite us. “The portrait, for example, is universal,” she says. “Whether the subject is wearing a sari … or a bathing suit, [whether] the skin color is yellow, pink or blue, the human figure is still depicted as a human figure.”

WHAT: Imageries of Life
WHERE: Asheville Gallery of Art, 82 Patton Ave.
WHEN: Opening reception Friday, April 7, 5-8 p.m. The exhibit will remain on view through Sunday, April 30. Free

About Thomas Calder
Thomas Calder received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. He has worked with several publications, including Gulf Coast and the Collagist.

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