Young Boy, 2023

Ocean Space Venice

Simone Fattal
Young Boy, 2023
Glazed earthenware
163 x 80 x 80 cm
Commissioned by TBA21–Academy
TBA21 Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary Collection
Simone Fattal’s artistic journey weaves a captivating narrative through the diverse landscapes of her life. Born in Damascus, Syria, she was raised in Lebanon, where her early studies in philosophy at the École des Lettres in Beirut set the stage for her intellectual pursuits. Later, in Paris, she continued her philosophy studies at the Sorbonne. The confines of the Western canon led her back to Beirut in 1969, where she transitioned from philosophy to visual art. Fattal successfully exhibited her paintings until the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War in 1975, when her artistic trajectory faced a hiatus. Undeterred, she sought refuge in California in 1980, marking the beginning of a new chapter: she began studying sculpture and founded the Post-Apollo Press, a ground-breaking publishing house dedicated to innovative literary works. This venture became a platform for her late partner Etel Adnan’s poetry as well as other experimental works.

Fattal’s enduring love of clay has been visible throughout her career. She views pottery as a primal material intimately connected to human existence. The tactile engagement with clay, molding it with her hands, holds a unique significance for her. While acknowledging the fragility and vitality of clay, she humorously notes the challenge of the firing process. Her first sculpture was a standing figure representing the warrior during the Civil War in Lebanon, with an archaic appearance deeply connected to Syrian and Mesopotamian history, a figure that has accompanied her ever since.

Conceived especially for her 2023 exhibition “Sempre il mare, uomo libero, amerai!” (Free man, you'll love the ocean endlessly!) at Ocean Space in Venice, the standing figure Young Boy assumes a prominent role in the show. Positioned within the empty niches of a large Baroque altar, he overlooked the myriad stories woven together by Fattal about Máyya and Ghaylán, a couple of lovers celebrated in classic Arabic poetry who engaged in the pearl trade in Venice and the Mediterranean. Observing the present and questioning the future, Young Boy may become the composer of new epics that future generations will be led by.

Accompanying the exhibition, TBA21–Academy and Sternberg Press co-published  
Thus Waves Come in Pairs. Thinking with the Mediterraneans, which can be ordered here

Simone Fattal selected the following books for the reading corner of her exhibition:
ABU AL-HAYYAT, Maya, You Can Be the Last Leaf.
ADNAN, Etel, Le Destin va ramener les étés Sombres. 
ADNAN, Etel, Le Livre de la mer.
ADNAN, Etel, Of Cities and Women. 
ARSANIOS, Mirene, The Autobiography of a Language. 
BAUDELAIRE, Charles, I Fiori del Male. 
CALASSO, Roberto, Il rosa Tiepolo / Tiepolo Pink.
CARTER, Robert A,  Sea of Pearls.
DAKHLIA, Jocelyne, Lingua franca - histoire d'une langue métisse en Méditerranée.
GIBBON, Edward, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.  
GUÉBO, Josué, Songe à Lampedusa. 
HESIOD, Le opere e i giorni - la cosmogonia. 
IBN AL-'ARABI, Muhyiddin, Bewildered The Translator of Desires. 
KAPCHAN, Deborah (ed), Poetic Justice - An Anthology of Contemporary Moroccan Poetry. 
MERSAL, Iman, The Threshold.
ROSSELLI, Amelia, Locomotrix.  
STRAZZABOSCO, Stefano, Oikos - Poeti per il futuro.  
TOUFIC, Ahmad, Abu Mousa's Women neighbours. 
TSIRKAS, Stratis, Cités à la dérive. 
Virgil, L’Eneide - Libri I - VIII. 
Virgil, L’Eneide - Libri IX - XII.

TBA2 also acquired Fattal's installation ‘Pearls from the same exhibition.