On first impression, Dala Nasser’s Hibiscus (all works 2022) is a reminder of the poverty of language when confronted with the complexities of shade. One may describe it as a sq. patchwork of pillowcases and bedsheets bordered with pink duct tape, its grey and brown material steeped with washes of pink and purple and flecked with white grit and sand. The generalizing vocabulary of shade, nonetheless, fails to seize what’s so particular concerning the shades and tones archived on this work. The dye staining the sheets was produced from hibiscus, rose, and anemone flowers rising on Nasser’s household farm in south Lebanon. The leaching of the dye was brought on by rain, which fell on the sheets after they had been left outdoors, over a number of months, on that very same land. Nasser’s colours are indexes of a spot: its flora, its climate.
In works like Oak, Zaytoun, and Flint Stone, scuffed marks are produced by charcoal rubbings. Others, like Anemone, are pockmarked with singed holes, the traces of ash and fireplace. Indexes are generally regarded as merchandise of an instantaneous—the flash of a digital camera, the autumn of a footstep—however Nasser’s newest works are merchandise of gradual accretion. The steeping of dye and the rubbing of stones, the flowering of petals and gradual modifications in local weather. They’re thus indexes of time, too, increasing what we will see, and what we will say, when care gathers the sweetness, and violence, that’s layered on this and another panorama.