Untitled, 1982, is a large-scale abstract painting of three collated canvas panels. It depicts an array of intersecting diagonal lines reminiscent of cracks on a wall’s surface or a web of some sort. Durra’s bursting lines are executed with black and cobalt blue acrylic paint applied in swift gestural brush strokes; they splatter over a dominant red mass that occupies much of the painting’s central left part. The blood-red mass resembles the shape of a heart; two cobalt-blue rectangular shapes flank it.  

The black cracks shatter throughout the picture's horizontal composition, set against a background of flat, irregular shapes painted in beige, white, and ochre. In contrast, the red mass seeps into the upper right corner of the painting, becoming burgundy in tone. Again, the white and beige background reveals thin craze lines, which sit timidly against the black linear dynamic energy. 

Certainly, Durra’s Untitled, 1982, is a seminal example of his signature abstract expressionist style. To achieve his work, he chooses contrasting vibrant and subtle colors, thick gestural brushstrokes, and splattered paint against a carefully fissured large-scale surface. 

The congested red mass, piercing cobalt blue, and bursting linear cracks generate a sense of pressure on the subtle background. The overwhelming use of diagonal, free-flowing lines and the haphazard arrangement of flat shapes bolster the composition's frantic energy. The imbalance contributes a sense of chaotic motion within the artwork, conveying emotional turmoil.

Nevertheless, Untitled, 1982, could carry different narratives with every gaze. The three-part panels, put together, provide a sense of continuity. Still, each can be perceived as independent. In his 2020 interview for ‘arabworldart’ art blog, as he was discussing his body of work, Durra himself asserted that, "When you look at a painting, it never stops changing." 

Indeed, it is left to the viewer to decide if the artist meant to portray an emotional topography, a troubled blood-red ‘heart’ with its associated network of vessels, or simply an outpour of his unfiltered emotions onto the canvas. 

Moreover, Durra's mood affects his creative production. The artist asserted this fact during an interview with the art journal ‘Artmejo’ in 2019, saying: “My work depends on my mood…it’s important to be spontaneous.”  The interview took place on the occasion of the opening of Durra’s retrospective exhibition at the Jordanian National Gallery of Arts. 

Untitled, 1982, exemplifies Durra’s faithfulness to authentic emotional expression, unbridled by convention. The artist draws from artistic principles of cubism, expressionism, and abstraction to create a timeless artwork which demonstrates his masterful compositional distribution and blending of line, shape, and color. 


  1. https://dafbeirut.org/en/mohanna-durra
  2. https://dafbeirut.org/en/videos/2657-talk-zara-gallery-grand-hyatt-amman-with-artists-muhanna-durra-and-reem-yassouf-2013
  3. https://artmejo.com/muhanna-durra-in-retrospect/
  4. https://www.7iber.com/culture/muhanna-durra-i-dont-remember-a-day-i-wasnt-painting/
  5. https://arabworldart.com/2020/12/04/interview-with-mohanna-durra/
  6. https://greyartgallery.nyu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Excerpt_TakingShape_Takesh_20200319_watermarked.pdf
  7. http://www.encyclopedia.mathaf.org.qa/en/bios/Pages/Mohanna-Durra.aspx
  8. http://mathqaf.com/2021/01/26/mohanna-durra/