Andrée Sfeir-Semler Portrait

The artists I’ve chosen are central to our practice as a gallery working in Beirut and Hamburg. They are artists we have worked with, but do not necessarily represent. The works we show at the gallery are the works I love, I understand and I cherish. So for this selection, I could not but choose from our very own. I haven’t based my choice on the audience. I would have selected these same works for Selections or for Art Forum. I never follow the audience. Whenever I make a choice – for an artist or works within an exhibit – I always try to follow my deepest inner self and the things I believe in. When you look through the works, you’ll notice that there is no obvious aesthetic line from one to the other. They all seem very different from each other. What they share is that conceptual moment. The works that I exhibit and collect are those that are subtle but carry a very poignant conceptual, historical or political message.

Sol LeWitt’s isometric work was the first of its kind and was first produced and made in our Hamburg space, merging the concept of the three-dimensional installation into the gallery walls. Walid Raad’s museum door is part of his investigation of the contemporary Arab art scene, whereby he stages illusions of important museums doors. Akram Zaatari’s scratched portrait of a tragic woman excavated from the photos and negatives of studio photographer, Hashem El Madani, uncovers the histories of the people and society in the 50s and 60s. Marwan Rechmaoui’s cement wall piece shows a geological cut of a city not only destroyed by the war, but also by a rampant urban catastrophe.

Yto Barrada’s work gives us glimpses of childhood and nature in her native Tangiers. With similar sensitivity, the purity of Etel Adnan’s intimate paintings radiate color. Ian Hamilton Finlay’s Aphrodite transports the classical to the contemporary, combining love and beauty with the ugliness of war. Wael Shawky’s extensive project on the history of the crusades illustrates the grotesque nature of humanity in fragile Murano glass marionettes.

Akram Zaatari, Damaged Negatives: Scratched Portrait of Mrs. Baqari Studio Shehrazade, 1957 / 2012. Digital inkjet print, 200 × 145 cm
Akram Zaatari, Damaged Negatives: Scratched Portrait of Mrs. Baqari Studio Shehrazade, 1957 / 2012. Digital inkjet print, 200 × 145 cm

Sol LeWitt, Isometric figure, 2002. Paint on wall, 430 × 824 cm. Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Hamburg, 2002
Sol LeWitt, Isometric figure, 2002. Paint on wall, 430 × 824 cm. Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Hamburg, 2002

Ian Hamiton Finlay, Arcadian Aphrodite, 1990. Gypsum and textile, Height: 160 cm
Ian Hamiton Finlay, Arcadian Aphrodite, 1990. Gypsum and textile, Height: 160 cm

Walid Raad, Scratching on Things I Could Disavow, views from outer to inner compartments, Untitled I, 2011. Wood, paint, 250 × 500 ×20 cm. Exhibition view, DOCUMENTA (13), 2012
Walid Raad, Scratching on Things I Could Disavow, views from outer to inner compartments, Untitled I, 2011. Wood, paint, 250 × 500 ×20 cm. Exhibition view, DOCUMENTA (13), 2012

Wael Shawky, Cabaret Crusades: The Secrets of Karbala, 2014. Marionette Glass, fabric, enamel, thread, Height: 54 cm
Wael Shawky, Cabaret Crusades: The Secrets of Karbala, 2014. Marionette Glass, fabric, enamel, thread, Height: 54 cm

Etel Adnan, Untitled, 2015. Oil on canvas, 55 × 46 cm
Etel Adnan, Untitled, 2015. Oil on canvas, 55 × 46 cm

Yto Barrada, Raft in Strangler Figtree, (Ficus macrophylla), 2005-2010. C-print, 150 × 150 cm
Yto Barrada, Raft in Strangler Figtree, (Ficus macrophylla), 2005-2010. C-print, 150 × 150 cm

Marwan Rechmaoui, Untitled, 2015. Concrete, plastic, paint, 240 × 300 × 0,5 cm
Marwan Rechmaoui, Untitled, 2015. Concrete, plastic, paint, 240 × 300 × 0,5 cm


A VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE APPEARED IN PRINT IN SELECTIONS #31, PAGES 120 – 139 AND LIMITED EDITION #50, PAGES 32 – 36

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