Lot 39
  • 39

Nabil Nahas

50,000 - 70,000 USD
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  • Nabil Nahas
  • Color Blind
  • signed, titled, and dated 1998 on the reverse
  • acrylic on canvas
  • 121.9 by 121.9 by 8.9 cm.; 48 by 48 by 3 1/2 in.


Sperone / Westwater, New York 
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner in 1998


This work in very good condition. All surface irregularities are in line with the artist's working process. The colours in the catalogue illustration are fairly accurate, with the overall tonality being slightly stronger and vivid in the original work, especially the blues who tends towards a royal blue.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Lebanese artist Nabil Nahas has firmly established himself as a pioneer of abstraction through his unique use of color, texture and complex composition to create spellbinding canvases. Nahas received his MFA from Yale University in 1973, and although formally trained in Western painting, his work is inspired by a multiplicity of sources including nature and the geometric patterns like those that can be found in the decorative Islamic art of his birth city, Beirut. His most famous and innovative works are created by dense layers of acrylic paint, texturized with powered pumice and pigmented with vibrant colors. This technique creates a splendid visual effect as the works appear otherworldly but also organic—as if they had been extracted from coral or a meteor.

Color Blind is a pure explosion of texture and color. Its densely encrusted sculptural surface pushes the boundaries of painting. The organic forms that comprise the surface excite and surprise the eye as it attempts to register the color, texture, and composition of the work simultaneously. The protruding forms oscillate in depth in an uneven-yet natural rhythm in incandescent hues. The present work clearly adheres to neither pattern nor formula, but the repetition of shapes echo the elaborate decoration found within Islamic artistic tradition. In Color Blind, he embraces the irregularities of the natural world, translating his canvas plane into an illustriously textured terrain covered in a network of crevices and narrow gaps as deep as two or three inches, which suggest an intricate pattern of erosion, mineral accretion or biological growth. Seemingly abstract at first sight, Color Blind imperceptibly exceeds the limitations typically prescribed to non-objective art. It is through this irregular repetition of forms and implementation of color that Nahas is able to create an awe-inspiring balance; the work channels the organic simplicity of nature without losing the presence and creative power of the artist.

In Color Blind, like in many of his remarkable works, Nahas is able to create a three-dimensional work that imitates a living, breathing organism. In a 2014 interview with The National Nahas commented, “I was never interested in socio-political statements, in appropriation or consumerism, I am much more interested in the “larger picture”, the ticking of the universe, and no matter how much I turn it and twist it, painting will be my choice of expression.” The artist evidences his own spirit and propensity to channel and reinterpret the natural world through striking works such as Color Blind. Nahas’ optical phenomenon creates fantastical visual illusions which dip into the realm of the imaginary in keeping with the universe we know, but also transporting us into an imaginary one. He generates from grainy fact an ethereal luminosity which cannot be observed in our surroundings.