"The city exists and it has a simple secret: it knows only departures, not returns." - Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities, 1972
Chaouki Choukini is best known for his sculptures in which the Lebanese-born Paris-based artist plays with light and space, which are also evident in Choukini’s delicate watercolour works presented here for the first time. Shimmering visions of desert cityscapes are revealed through the haze, drawing on music, memories of places, remote villages and the vast desert itself. Here, light does not peak through folds of wood, rather, each creation is bathed in it. While the shapes – a confluence of cubes and blocks that comprise his citadelles – are familiar. Here, in contrast to the strength of wood, we see delicate watercolours, blurry shapes, applied and erased, making us squint to see it through the fog of memory. They evoke shimmering translucent cities, hovering on the edge of a mirage, slowly revealing themselves to us through layers of swirling sand storms and cloud, unfurling themselves on the page before coming to life in front of our eyes. They are extraordinary visions, places existing within the artist’s memory – part constructivist patchwork, part living being, part elusive dream.
Born in 1946 in Choukine, Lebanon, Chaouki Choukini received his degree from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-arts de Paris in 1972. He was awarded the Prix de la Jeune Sculpture in 1978, followed by the Taylor Foundation Prize in 2010, and the Prix de la Fondation Pierre Gianadda, from de l’Academie des Beaux Arts, France in 2015.
Choukini has participated in various solo and group exhibitions including: The Rain Forever Will Be Made of Bullets, Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah, UAE (2021); Le monde arabe vu par ses artistes, Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris, France (2018); and Beloved Bodies, Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah, UAE (2017) amongst others.
His works are in several important collections including Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; Musee d’Art Contemporain de Val-de-Marne, France; Institut du Monde Arabe, France; Mathaf, Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha; Centre National des Arts Plastique, France; Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah, UAE and Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah, UAE.