Art & Object

Taking Shape was conceived as a visual journey into the creative minds of some of the Arab world's most prominent artists and their approaches to non-representational art. In her essay in the exhibition’s accompanying catalogue, curator Suleya Takesh quotes Algerian painter Mohammed Khadda’s compelling observations about the potential of abstraction and his argument in favor of the freedom inherent to the movement: "The history of painting had been one of successive revolutions and continuous liberation that eventually culminated in the emergence of abstraction, allowing painting to become an art unto itself, no longer reliant on a physical subject. There was no longer a horizon, but infinity."

Start counting forward from the Stonewall uprising, and you’re likely to find yourself feeling free, maybe obligated even, to indulge fanciful ideas. Contemporaneous accounts present it as a surreal scene. There’s a counterweight, of course, and that’s the impulse to honor the real risks and sacrifices those pioneering spirits made to move the culture forward. Haltingly forward, sure but not for lack of effort. All of that and more was on display those June nights in 1969.