blackbirdonline journalFall 2012 Vol. 11 No. 2
JOHN RAVENAL | VMFA 21st Century Gallery

Diana Al-Hadid’s Trace of a Fictional Third
Exhibition organized by Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Mar 10, 2012–Nov 25, 2011
with support from the Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York

 Diana Al-Hadid
 Trace of a Fictional Third, 2011
 Steel, polymer gypsum, wood, fiberglass, paint.
 Courtesy of the George Economou Collection.
 Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
 Photos: Travis Fullerton  © Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Al-Hadid’s sculptures often seem in a state of flux, suggesting both incompletion and decay. A wide array of sources underlie her complex forms, including Biblical and mythological narratives, Arab oral traditions, Gothic architecture, Western painting, Islamic ornamentation, and scientific advances in physics and astronomy.


In Trace of a Fictional Third, landscape, architecture, and the human figure are interwoven. Here Al-Hadid revisits time and motion in the sculpture’s cascades, undulating fabrics, and human figures that seem both corporeal and spectral.


The sculpture rises from a cluster of pedestals to form an irregular pyramid. Two figures—one low, the other high—and the viewer, implicated as the “fictional” third figure, form points of an overall triangle.


Elements of painting are also present, with horizon lines and linear perspective, puddles and drips of color, and imagery suggesting mountains and clouds in an open-ended, dreamlike scene.


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Diana Al-Hadid was born in Aleppo, Syria, in 1981, and moved to the United States as a child. She earned undergraduate degrees in sculpture and art history at Kent State University in Ohio and a graduate degree in sculpture from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. Her work has gained international attention, including recent solo exhibitions at Centro de Arte Contemporáneo, Murcia, Spain; Nevada Museum of Art, Reno; Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, Texas; and Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. She currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

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