Folded Copper from Unfolded by Michel Abboud

Folded Copper

36 x 72 inches

Press Release

Artist Statement - Unfolded

Unfolded is my first solo exhibition in New York. After dedicating close to twenty years to my architecture career, I have finally decided to showcase a selected body of work of my first and life-long passion – Art. For me, art is as process-based as my architecture but it does not make it any less of an emotional endeavor. My work is all about an internal process that involves the canvas, the body and my emotions. It is simply out of the need to create and embrace a side of myself that I have kept hidden until now that I’m exhibiting this selection of works. 


This exhibition showcases my work of the past two years. It starts out with my very first Gemini Series 4x4 feet diptych paintings, which then evolved into to my large format 5x6 footers that are heavily influenced by a mix of childhood experiences in a war-torn country and tumultuous experiences in New York over the last few years.  The exhibition finally leads to my latest sculptural pieces of folded canvas on canvas that came as a result of years of experimentation with the materiality of form and content.


The Gemini Series is not intended to represent anything other than itself. I use high viscosity acrylic paint with no brushes and no knives- just my hands, while using my entire body as a tool to cover the large format canvases laid on the ground. With this series, one painting on canvas is created with texture and another canvas is overlaid on top which is then ripped apart to become a sister canvas and a new piece of art. The subsequent sister piece carries the residual scars and traced of the initial outburst. One is a continuation of the other. Even though one is a negative and a positive, neither one is identical. One is an emotional piece and the other is a release piece, which come hand in hand. Both architecture and art are linked, identities are blurred but also merged. The dual conflicting nature of this process is at the essence of my art. 


On the other hand, the diptychs address the dual nature of man. Just like a Rorschach test, the dual piece replicates itself in complementary but non-identical way, the end of one marking the beginning of the other. 


I see my pieces as “non-paintings” because each art piece is not intended to represent anything other than itself. We have been so conditioned to perceive paint as a medium to achieve a final product that we forgot to see it for what it really is. Paint is paint, a material, colored matter, just a paste, no longer a medium of abstract or figural representation. It can now be molded, sculpted, layered, embossed, debossed, sanded and scraped, and by such take on an entire new meaning. 


After investigating the possibilities of manipulating the actual paint matter in a sculptural and material process, I have then proceeded to explore the physical support itself: the canvas. So many artists over time have manipulated the canvas in different ways. Some have left it blank, others painted in white or in various colors, some burned it, some stabbed it, and others tore it. I have chosen to fold it. By stripping it from its frame, then slicing it, in order to finally fold it on to itself, I aim to blur the distinctions between content and container, support and object, medium and product. The folded canvas freed from its frame can now take on a multitude of new forms and materiality. Each piece is unique and can never be replicated as each fold is unique – like a fingerprint – due to the complexity of the form. By taking on a variety of light sensitive colors, ranging from metallic hues to shades of darks, down to pure white, I am investigating the way form and color dynamically react to light depending on the temperature of light and the position of the viewer. Each piece uses traditional materials: regular paint on basic canvas, applied with a standard brush. Yet by applying the amazingly simple process of the fold, what started out as a classic application of paint on canvas now becomes a remarkably complex array of forms that refract light in a multitude of ways, unconstrained by the two dimensional space of the flat canvas. The resulting piece blurs the boundaries between painting and sculpture, and opens a dialogue about the distinction between the two: is it a painting or a sculpture? In the end, it is an object in space, with a certain materiality, and a dynamic reactivity to light, intended to only be appreciated for what it is, as opposed to what it is not.             - Michel Abboud