Art

Fahrelnissa Zeid: Colourful. Eccentric. Powerful.

07 September 2017Arsalan Mohamed
Fahrelnissa Zeid: Colourful. Eccentric. Powerful.
Fahrelnissa Zeid: Colourful. Eccentric. Powerful.
Fahrelnissa Zeid: Colourful. Eccentric. Powerful.
Fahrelnissa Zeid: Colourful. Eccentric. Powerful.
Fahrelnissa Zeid: Colourful. Eccentric. Powerful.
Fahrelnissa Zeid: Colourful. Eccentric. Powerful.

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Born in Istanbul in 1901, Fahrelnissa Zeid was a pioneering artist with a penchant for vibrant, polychromatic, large-scale works that blended European approaches to abstraction with Byzantine, Islamic and Persian styles. One of the first women in Istanbul to receive formally trained, Fahrelnissa defied the norm, favouring more experimental approaches to art. In June 2017, the Tate Modern opened a retrospective of Zeid's work, marking and celebrating the seminal impact she had on the development of abstract art. 

Arsalan Mohamed talks to Vassilis Oikonomopoulos, Assistant Curator at Tate Modern and member of the Alserkal Residency Selection Committee, about the UK's first retrospective of Fahrelnissa Zeid, touching on her life, her unique practice and the incredible legacy that she developed over the course of a tumultuous life.  

 

Image captions and credits (in order of appearance):
Unknown photographer
Fahrelnissa Zeid in her studio, Paris, c.1950s
Raad Zeid Al-Hussein Collection
© Raad Zeid Al-Hussein
Fahrelnissa Zeid (1901–1991)
Untitled, c.1950s
Oil paint on canvas
Tate
Presented by Raad Zeid Al-Hussein 2015
© Raad Zeid Al-Hussein
Fahrelnissa Zeid (1901–1991)
Fight against Abstraction, 1947
Oil paint on canvas
101 x 151 cm
Istanbul Modern Collection/ Eczacibaşi Group Donation
© Raad Zeid Al-Hussein © Istanbul Museum of Modern Art
Fahrelnissa Zeid (1901–1991)
Resolved Problems, 1948
Oil paint on canvas (130 x 97 cm)
Istanbul Museum of Modern Art Collection, Eczacıbaşı Group Donation (Istanbul, Turkey) 
© Raad Zeid Al-Hussein © Istanbul Museum of Modern Art
Fahrelnissa Zeid (1901–1991)
Third Class Passengers, 1943
Oil paint on plywood (130 x 100 cm)
Istanbul Museum of Modern Art Collection, Eczacıbaşı Group Donation (Istanbul, Turkey) 
© Raad Zeid Al-Hussein © Istanbul Museum of Modern Art
Vassilis Oikonomopoulos, Assistant Curator, Tate Modern
© Tate Photography

 

The unique form of abstraction that she created, but also the scale [on which] she worked... If it was a male artist, there wouldn't be any question about the power and the meaning of the work.