Alymamah Rashed, When I Collected Your Scattered Love (Ripple in Water), 2020. Watercolour on paper, 127 x 276.9 cm

Tabari Artspace presents Kuwaiti surrealist painter, Alymamah Rashed’s solo exhibition.

Rashed draws from regional folklore and the rapid social shifts that she has witnessed such as the modernisation and industrialisation of the Gulf region, she negotiates readings of Islamic philosophy and poetry, and ornamentation and the every day banal objects that she encounters. Her gestural, surrealist paintings harness self-portraiture to investigate the complexities of identity in the post-internet generation.

Alymamah Rashed, Without You Tonight, 2019. Watercolour on paper, 48.3 x 33 cm
Alymamah Rashed, Without You Tonight, 2019. Watercolour on paper, 48.3 x 33 cm

Rashed understands herself as a multifaceted being, the various elements that comprise her persona flow out into the different realms that she emits onto her canvas: the earth-bound (the mind and the fleshed body), the spiritual (the thobe), and a combination of the two which come to form a third space. Spirituality, specifically the notion of spiritual intelligence, has been a central tenet of Rashed’s existence, yet she understands spirituality as universal; the act of prayer is engaged with across faiths and cultures. Observing the body as a capsule of movement, through the process of prayer Rashed can transcend as she witnesses her physical and spiritual worlds conflate.

Alymamah Rashed, My Eyes Will Listen to Your Forgotten Promises, 2020. Watercolour on paper, 36.8 x 47 cm
Alymamah Rashed, My Eyes Will Listen to Your Forgotten Promises, 2020. Watercolour on paper, 36.8 x 47 cm

Like a cyborg whose physical abilities are extended beyond fixed human limitations, her figures are replicas of her own body. Invested with the power to transition, they appear magically from different timescapes, in multiple states. For Rashed, the body is a site of action, a dictator of gravity that is always in relation to an object, a space, or perhaps, another body. It learns what to reveal and conceal. The body moves and eventually orients itself according to the gravity of the space in which it breathes within.

Alymamah Rashed, Arak Kul Yawm Li’anak Tahwa Ma Katalt / I See You Everyday Because You Have Adored What You Killed , 2019. Oil on canvas, 210.8 x 96.5 cm
Alymamah Rashed, Arak Kul Yawm Li’anak Tahwa Ma Katalt / I See You Everyday Because You Have Adored What You Killed , 2019. Oil on canvas, 210.8 x 96.5 cm

External and internal worlds unite through Rashed’s choice of colour which is typically rooted in a present sensation or immediate encounter. It is instinctive and based on a dominant emotion or a colour that she encounters in her everyday existence such as a cerulean blue school gate. When painting she attempts to envision the colour of Barzakh (a space that lays between life itself and the afterlife; a space of liminality). Rashed seeks to investigate Barzakh through colour in order to expand the spatiality or perhaps the typology in which her figures exist, and that is within the liminal. Rashed accentuates the colour and the scale of her objects, elevating their status, vibrancy and placement in order to emit their livelihood.

Alymamah Rashed, Prayer and the pink carnation ( I bloom for you), 2021. Oil on canvas, 149.9 x 302.3 cm
Alymamah Rashed, Prayer and the pink carnation ( I bloom for you), 2021. Oil on canvas, 149.9 x 302.3 cm

Referencing late Algerian modernist pioneer Baya Mahieddine’s colour-fuelled, idiosyncratic form of autobiographical portraiture, her large-scale works negotiate her female subjectivity. Rashed draws from regional folklore and the rapid social shifts that she has witnessed such as the modernisation and industrialisation of the Gulf region, she negotiates readings of Islamic philosophy and poetry, and ornamentation and the every day banal objects that she encounters.

Alymamah Rashed, I Caress My Ayn Every Now and Then, 2020. Oil on canvas, 137.2 x 223.5 cm
Alymamah Rashed, I Caress My Ayn Every Now and Then, 2020. Oil on canvas, 137.2 x 223.5 cm

The artist is inspired by the likes of Francis Bacon, Chris Ofili and the ornamentation of Matisse. Rashed’s internal world manifests in her art through icons absorbed from myriad sources including regional typographic, Persian and Afghani visual icons, Sufi poetry, philosophy and theology responding to both Plato and Muslim scholars, such as Suhrawardi, Ghazali. Her father, an academic and humanitarian and her mother, an economist with an affinity for art, design and culture, have also come to inform the artist’s multifaceted world which she dutifully relays through her art.


This information is extracted from the press release.

The exhibition is on view until the 31st of May.

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