The CMA has organized the first retrospective museum exhibition of Naifeh’s paintings and sculpture entitled Found in Translation: The Art of Steven Naifeh. The 26 large-scale works of modern art reflect Naifeh’s personal taste, preferences and attitudes about geometric abstraction that developed over the span of 40 years. It is hardly surprising that Naifeh’s childhood in the Middle East educated his eye to the rigorous forms of Arab and Islamic art. For more than 1,000 years, geometry has been central to Islamic art and architecture. In his art, Naifeh achieves a synthesis of West and East as well as old and new, a blending of cultures recognized early on in the art he made here in America. His work represents universal harmony and attains this geometric symmetry beautifully with intellectual discipline, rigorous skill and authentic joy in the process of communication.
Found in Translation is destined to inspire our community and open doors to understanding cultures beyond our own. It shows visitors that what we share culturally is perhaps greater than what separates us. Abstract art is capable of expressing complex ideas like unity and continuity.
Naifeh has exhibited work throughout the Islamic world including Abu Dhabi, Jordan, Pakistan and the Muslim cities of Kano and Kaduna in Nigeria.
Naifeh studied art with the Nigerian artist Bruce Onobrakpeya. He also studied contemporary art with Sam Hunter, former curator of the Museum of Modern Art and the Jewish Museum, and he studied Islamic art with Oleg Grabar and Cary Welch.
Naifeh and Gregory White Smith published the biography, Van Gogh: The Life, which was recently featured on CBS 60 Minutes. The book was featured on several best book lists for 2011 in The New York Times, The Economist, The Washington Post and was the Sunday Times of London’s Best Art Book of the Year. The CMA hosted Naifeh for a lecture and book signing in January 2012.
The authors have written many books on art and other subjects, including four New York Times bestsellers. Their biography, Jackson Pollock: An American Saga, won the Pulitzer Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Award.