Nadim Karam: Compressed Thoughts

 Visitors in Ayyam Gallery at Nadim Karam's Compressed Thoughts exhibition, November 2017. Image courtesy of Ayyam Gallery. 

Visitors in Ayyam Gallery at Nadim Karam's Compressed Thoughts exhibition, November 2017. Image courtesy of Ayyam Gallery. 

Tangled masses of rusted wires, broken cables and sad-looking rejected metal, Nadim Karam’s latest sculptures are a far cry from the polished stainless steel formations that have hitherto characterised his work. From his Wild Cat to his Peacock Elephant, Karam calls his artworks urban toys or dream catalysts and they are designed to inject an element of playfulness and fantasy into urban environments.

In recent years, he has been interested in the idea of depicting thought. His series, Stretching Thoughts comprised several of his cartoon-like characters with spindly ribbons of consciousness emerging from their heads and now, in his latest collection, he has attempted to compress his visual representation of thought into these small and rather despondent looking cuboid forms.

Whilst they might not be as enticing to the viewer as his animals or playful child-like personas, what I like about these works is that they show conceptual progression and development of his ideas.

Asking questions like “can we reach pure thought, distilled to an essence?” and, rather poetically: “If countless strands of human thought could become infinitely condensed into a block of compressed matter, how would this intense zone of thought exist? Would all thoughts of the universe fall into it?” – we are forced to contemplate his thinking when faced with these objects.

Displayed on flat, circular discs and well-lit from above, to encounter the Compressed Thoughts series is an entirely different experience to seeing images of them - as you can see from the video above. There is a physicality and a materiality to the pieces that is compelling and despite their diminutive size, they manage to fill the vast gallery space at Ayyam quite comfortably.

  • Nadim Karam: Compressed Thoughts. November 6, 2017 - January 6, 2018 at Ayyam Gallery, Alserkal Avenue, Dubai.