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Critical Analysis of Art Module IV

Rico Franses

12 July - 5 August 2023

Wednesdays and Saturdays

INR 7,500 Participation

INR 10,000 Participation + Writing/Final Project

6:30 PM IST - 8:30 PM IST 

Worldwide Registration Open

Online via Zoom

Download Course Poster

About the Course

In this course we will concentrate primarily on the paintings of Nasreen Mohammedi. We will also examine the work of two further prominent abstract artists, Saloua Choucair, and Samia Halaby. These women have recently begun to attract significant attention from the art world, not least because Abstraction itself, as a mode of Modernist art, has long been dominated by men. Furthermore, Modernist Abstraction is very much associated with Western art, whereas all of our artists are unquestionably—and unapologetically—“Eastern”: Mohammedi was born in Karachi, Choucair in Beirut, and Halaby in Jerusalem.

To consider just the question of geography for a moment, the (male) pioneers of Western Modernist Abstraction all started off as figurative painters who slowly and—as the story is told—heroically struggled their way to an entirely new and original form of art. Our three Eastern artists, by contrast, although they thought of themselves as working in the Modernist idiom, all grew up in areas where abstraction has been the dominant form of image-making for thousands of years.

In this course, we will attempt to move beyond the hegemonic Western narrative concerning Abstraction in Modernity. Our goal, however, is not simply to replace one set of Western male heroes with another set of Eastern female heroines. Leaving aside the questions of origins and “who did what first,” we will trace the ways in which, in the work of our artists, different strands of modern abstraction do and do not interweave with traditional Eastern abstraction. As we will see, the question is not one of superficial visual resemblance. Rather, we will search out structures and sensibilities within the artworks themselves, to trace the ways in which some of the grandiose tropes of Western Abstraction are refigured to create a subtly different art form. Modern art will never look the same to you again!

About the Professor

Rico Franses is Chair of the Critical Analysis of Art at BICAR. He was for many years Founding Director of the University Art Galleries and Collections at the American University of Beirut. He has also held teaching positions at The Australian National University (Canberra), Pratt Institute (New York), and a fellowship at Harvard University. He has a BA in Philosophy (McGill University, Montreal), an MA in Art History (McGill) and a PhD in Art History (Courtauld Institute of Art, London). Among his publications are a book, Donor Portraits in Byzantine Art. On the Vicissitudes of Contact between Human and Divine (Cambridge University Press, 2018), and several articles including ‘Lacan and Byzantium. In the Beginning was the Image’, ‘The Deleuzian Spatiality of Byzantine Art’, and 'Untime in the Unconscious.  On the Dislocations of Time in Freud, Lacan, Laurie Anderson and Walid Sadek’.


Students will receive a Certificate of Completion upon successful attendance of a course or a Certificate of Completion and Letter of Evaluation if they successfully attend and complete the final assignment. Those who complete three courses (attendance and writing) in the Critical Analysis of Art over two calendar years are eligible for a BICAR Diploma in Critical Analysis of Art.

Refund Policy

We will refund your mode of payment — minus a 25% processing fee — if you choose not to take this course after the first session. Or, you can ‘roll over’ your balance to another or future BICAR course without a fee deduction.


To register, we can facilitate two modes of payment — either a direct bank transfer to our Indian account or we also have a PayPal link:

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