Found In Translation:
The Art Of Steven Naifeh


March 6 – August 1, 2014

The abstract art of the West and the geometric art of the Middle East unite harmoniously in the work of Steven Naifeh, who harnesses the spiritual beauty of Arab and Islamic motifs through paintings and sculptures that delight in their precise mathematical alignments of color, shape, and line.


Spanning three decades of work, the exhibition is a testament to Naifeh’s upbringing as the son of American diplomats. As a child and young adult, Naifeh was immersed in the rich motifs and geometric patterns of the Arab and Islamic world. This upbringing, combined with a deep scholarly knowledge and appreciation for the history of Western abstraction, has resulted in an extraordinary body of work that distills mathematical formulas to achieve decorative splendor.

The exhibition, which enchants with kinetic power and tessellating energies, includes 15 immersive, modular pieces on the third floor of Mana Contemporary, as well as two additional works in the main lobby. The first solo show by an American-born artist at MECA, Naifeh’s exhibition synergizes the traditions of East and West, resulting in a rich body of work that is both timeless and contemporary, distant and familiar.


The son of Arab-American parents of Lebanese descent, Steven Naifeh is an accomplished artist, writer, businessman, and lawyer. He studied art history at Princeton and Harvard Universities, focusing on 19th and 20th century Western European and American Art. His 1991 publication Jackson Pollock: An American Saga (with Gregory White Smith) won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography, and was a National Book Award Finalist in Nonfiction. His most recent work, Van Gogh: The Life (also with Gregory White Smith) was named “Art Book of the Year” by the Times of London.

As an artist and author, Naifeh has been profiled in many publications, including The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, Harvard Magazine, People, and The International Herald Tribune. Having shown across the Middle East and Africa for decades, Naifeh’s first American museum retrospective opened in May 2013 at the Columbia Museum in South Carolina.


Leila Heller Gallery, (formerly LTMH Gallery) located in the heart of Chelsea’s gallery district, promotes a cutting edge program of international contemporary emerging and mid-career artists. The gallery has gained recognition for fostering the careers of artists working across a multitude of disciplines and mediums, helping to establish them among the leading contemporary artists internationally.


Press Release

Courtesy Leila Heller Gallery