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Fahrelnissa Zeid

The Courage to Unlearn

By Kevin Jones

SOMEONE FROM THE PAST (AUTOPORTRAIT), 1980, oil on canvas, 209 x 117 cm. Courtesy Sharjah Art Foundation.

Of all the curatorial gestures that shaped the retrospective of Turkish artist Fahrelnissa Zeid (1901–1991)’s works at this year’s Sharjah Biennial 12, perhaps none was more potent than positioning the late princess and painter’s self-portrait to stare out a window. At once domineering and circumspect, Zeid’s figure in Someone from the Past (Autoportrait) (1980) is syncopated by the saffron-colored cacophony of an abstract-patterned dress, echoing…

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