top of page

Techniques in Canaan's work
By Nava Shoshani 2005

    Due to the prohibition in the Islam of creating any animal or human figures, Muslim artists have turned to the art of trimming and decorating and did wonders there. Out of its limitations, Muslim art grew an abundant of spectacular geometrical figures, models and curvy lines combined into one another in an endless richness of color and shape. Therefore, even today when these restrictions are seldom applied, many artists continue to use all these decorative elements. In the work of Ahmad Canaan, the Arabesque and geometrical shapes have turned into an inseparable and distinctive mark of his artwork.

    A different style yet still influenced by the decorative art, which was developed by Ahmad is the use of the “Mushrabiya”, which is a wooden lattice or a furrowed concrete, used in the house’s porch, separating it partially from the outside street. It reduces the heat of the sun or blow of the wind and allows the people in the house to observe the outside without the option of looking in the house from outside. This lattice is also called “Shabakiya”, meaning originally a “fishermen net”. And indeed this divider reminds a net in its design, being a platform, from which geometrical shapes were removed. Ahmad draws the sight of the street and sights from within his mind from behind the Mushrabiya. It is possible to see how his creation leads to a place where the artist feels trapped, and outsider, representing a sort of curfew, whether by choice or not.

    Another of Ahmad’s unique techniques is the assembly and disassembly and using Synergy Meaning , taking the whole and making it more than the sum of all its parts. Ahmad’s process includes a platform, out of which smaller parts were removed and fused into a new art piece. This kind of art makes the Ornamentation an actual thesis. The technical principle of the design expresses the conceptual ideas and substance of the piece. Taking out of the platform some shapes, just like melting them into a new mass, is the artist declaration.

    Generally it can be said that the Ornamentics in Ahmad Canaan’s work sometime appears as a visual background or a formative layer, but in most cases it’s a screen, softening or deceiving, through which the artist’s ideas and insights are shown. The viewer is exposed to the heavy content and pain through out a decorative front.

Most of Ahmad’s pieces in this catalog belong to a new series called “The Knight”. This series shows the horse – sometimes without a rider – as a representative image for the leader, the warrior, the soldier, the people. Sometimes upright and a winner and sometimes defeated or a victim. This selected image is derived from the longing of the artist to the days when the Arab people were “On the horse”. And so an allegedly naive weave of layers and shapes become a wider and stronger, sometimes even blunt statement. A structure of which its texture is made of and/or emptied of many horses, becomes a statement about a people without an army and without a leader compared to the potential that lays in the changing of this situation.


Nava Shoshani – Artist and curator  -2005

Translated by Nofar Shoshani

bottom of page