Curators, collectors, and art gazers will descend on South Beach for Miami Art Week 2016, set to take place from December 1st until December 4th. The four days are to be filled with big ticket events including Art Basel Miami and high profile satellite art fairs. Among the premier exhibitions taking place is Tunisian-American artist Nadia Ayari’s solo show at Taymour Grahne Gallery’s booth at Untitled.
Inside the beachside tent, designed by K/R Architects, visitors will come to discover a vivid collection of oil paintings and fresco sculptures that Ayari has been working on for the past six months. “I feel like they are pushing me into a more abstract area,” the artist states. Botanical motifs take shape across oil paintings that Ayari created using a wet-on-wet and impasto technique. Protruding off rough slabs, small scale fresco paintings are gradually built layer upon layer using a water and plaster recipe. “I’ve made them on marble,” the artist explains. “Fresco is a very interesting material that isn’t used much. It harkens back to ancient practices and there’s something very special about the light in those pieces.”
Founded by Lebanese-Finnish Taymour Grahne in 2013, his eponymous gallery spotlights an international roster of emerging and mid-career artists. Ayari joined in 2014, after Grahne took notice of her show at Chelsea Gallery in 2011: “Our conversation started from there. I joined a show at his gallery in 2013 called “Didn’t Start the Fire,” and we both noticed that we worked well together.”
Like many young and emerging artists, Ayari’s journey into the art world was met with challenges. She moved to the United States in 2000 to attend Boston University, and enrolled in a pre-med program before quickly realizing it wasn’t for her. Ayari switched to art history, which then led to a graduate studio program at the Rhode Island School of Design where she earned her MFA. During her schooling, she found an interest in political painting, where she referenced the works of Philip Guston and Leon Golub.
Ayari’s story truly began after she completed graduate school and relocated to New York City in 2007: “When I moved, I had to figure things out quickly and actually face what it is to have a studio–the complexity of production, the economics system,” she remarks. “I realized I didn’t actually have to focus on being a political painter; being a painter is political enough.”
For a year, she juggled having a full-time job at a gallery alongside her studio time. Soon after, she took part in an exhibition at London’s Saatchi Gallery where she sold her pieces. Gradually, she started scaling back on her day job to focus on her artistic career: “I had to make hard choices. As much as it goes against my nature to not choose security and to not know where the money is coming from at the end of the month, I had to take that risk.” Through motivation, direction, and uncertain decisions, this paved the way for Ayari to have a solo during one of the most celebrated contemporary art weeks. “There’s no morality to it. It doesn’t mean that if you take the risk it’s going to happen and that’s what makes it scary. If I had made different choices I don’t know where I would be now,” Ayari muses.
Nadia Ayari’s solo exhibition at Untitled takes place from November 30th until December 4th in South Beach, Miami.
Opening image: Courtesy of Taymour Grahne Gallery