Intersect 21 presents a selection of galleries from Southern California, the Middle East, and North Africa. The Fair explores the similarities and differences in contemporary art, design, and photography fields with a focus on art and place. The fair is on view on Intersect 21 until the 22nd of February and on Artsy until the 15th of March.
In this series, the artist presents intricately and heavily beaded tapestries, tackling issues of translation and ex/change of cultures. The title references the children’s game Chinese Whispers, where the story whispered from one to the other transforms into something else in the end. In the making of these pieces, the artist, through an acquaintance online, custom ordered them from a beading workshop in Nigeria. He had found scarves made in India in the 50’s and 60’s that were meant to be souvenirs for pilgrims in Makkah. The artist sent out these scarves representing Makkah with images replete with mistranslations. The Nigerian craftsmen were asked to produce beaded tapestries from the renditions in the scarves. In Chinese Whispers: King Saud 1, the portrait of the king is seen wearing a bejeweled aqal and the mosques of Makkah are made to resemble the Taj Mahal. The artist is interested and even encourages these variations and cultural interpretations, now bridging West Africa-West Asia-South Asia.
Tolteesh is an Arabic word used colloquially to describe a sexualised gendered term, typically used by a man as a public advance toward a woman in order to elicit a response. This series takes lines that have been called out to the artist by men in public around Beirut. In Arabic, they present themselves as rather far-fetched, yet admittedly quite poetic. In response, women tend to smirk and walk on. In a region of the world where overt sexuality appears to be taboo and conflicted, these enticements are still deemed offensive, yet socially accepted. Haidar is curious about the language used in these terms, and what is lost when they are translated from Arabic to English. By translating them to English, Haidar creates a shift in the power dynamics behind the phrases. With the loss in translation they are rendered absurd and nonsensical, yet still retain their humour. By creating an altogether different dynamic of exchange, a transfer of power occurs, whereby Haidar seizes control of the language and reflect the light of awkward humour and humiliation back.
These pieces are `hand-embroidered and embellished, alluding to the feminine, where the durational act of craft draws on the intimate and personal.
Shono’s Lisans, handmade sculptural tongue tools are process objects that like rituals bring back the lost performativity of the body into the shared and personal practice of the spoken word. The relegation of Lisans reflects on the slow decay and absence of the performative word in our lives and cultures as they seem to progress.
Lita Albuquerque, North Pole Activation, 2014. Pigment Print, 193 × 149.9 cm. Edition 1/5 + 1AP
Light and Space artist Lita Albuquerque has been investigating our place in the universe through installations, environmental works, paintings, and sculpture throughout her critically acclaimed career. She emerged in the 1970s, a student of Robert Irwin’s. In her early works, she marked the California desert with colored pigment, mapping both the earthly and celestial terrain, a practice she has since brought to sites worldwide. Among her best-known projects is Sol Star (1996), for which she marked the desert south of the Great Pyramids of Giza with blue circles, each one associated with a star. Albuquerque’s work is centered upon scale, and our smallness in an infinite cosmos.
In Pursuit of Utopia, the Palestinian landscape is presented without any disruptions; a perfect manicured landscape, that is well tended. Anani paints the picturesque hills of Palestine without the ever increasing Israeli settlements, bypass roads, roadblocks, walls and watch towers that are normally visible in every corner. He creates the Palestine of his dreams, a utopia inspired by his memories as a child growing up on the hills of Halhoul.
Anani’s work stems from his fascination with the Palestinian landscape and rural life, which are subjects that he has addressed throughout his artistic journey. In this series of work, one can rarely spot a human or their shadow, for the primary focus remains on the aesthetic of the place, giving the audience the chance to ponder and appreciate the scenic terrain.
Jerusalem’s landscape, as we know it today, is merely a surface layer, a slice in a long tumultuous history that has seen people and civilizations successively taking over from preceding ones. Over time, layers are obscured and sometimes obliterated to the point where one can find only a few traces or ruins, if any! Since the turn of the nineteenth century and the invention of photography, our relationship to how we see, comprehend, and communicate our understanding of history and time has dramatically changed. Superimposing an additional layer, a photograph taken today of the same location, over that taken by the American Colony photographers some hundred years ago, shot from the same spot and the same angle, would move us between two distinctive times. It allows us to study the changes that occurred, compare the various times, align the physical transformations with the events that took place in the city and around the region during the last century, and deduce from these observations all the agendas at play, then, now, and still to come.
Natural materials are focal in Sliman Mansour’s recent artworks. The combination of mud and acrylic on wood reflects the tension between the rough cracks of mud which is dominant, in contrast to adjacent areas of smoothly painted acrylic colors. Mansour’s works represent the stalemate situation in the Palestinian current reality and the subsequent changes that permeate the nature of Palestinians as people.
In his large-scale paintings, renowned Iranian artist Reza Derakshani draws from the decorative style of traditional Persian art. Brought up in a nomadic family in the Iranian mountains, Derakshani explores the natural world in his work, as well as emotional states and themes of exile and alienation. He builds up the luminous, textured surfaces of his paintings with a base of roof tar, after which he applies layers of color and other materials such as gold, silver, enamel and sand. Derakshani is also a musician, and the influences of music and poetry can be seen in the rhythmic harmonies that play out across his canvases, qualities that have prompted comparisons with the paintings of Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee.
Steven Naifeh’s tessellated, geometric forms are influenced by Middle Eastern architecture and textiles and boast the colors and playfulness of Op art. A Pulitzer Prize–winning biographer, businessman, and artist, Naifeh adapts geometric formulae to large-scale art. His floor–mounted Saida XXXVI, for example, arranges individual copper-plated steel squares to form a star–shaped whole, while his “Uzbek” series uses square panels and LED backlights to generate traditional Iranian whirlpool designs. As the first person to have a solo art show in Abu Dhabi, Naifeh employs decorative themes to expose shared visual cultures that transcend political ideologies. His combination of sleek Minimalism and traditional patterns created from positive and negative space merge ancient Arab imagery with a 21st–century Western sensibility.
In his turbulent mixed-media imagery, U.S.-based Iraqi artist Ayad Alkadhi probes the intersection of Eastern and Western culture and politics. Drawing from the tradition of Arabic calligraphy, Alkadhi works predominantly in charcoal, acrylic, pen and pencil, layered on top of Arabic newspaper applied to canvas. Using cuttings of reports of war, Alkadhi critiques the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, alluding frequently to Iraqi casualties, and in one series to the prisoners of Abu Ghraib. Gas pumps are also a regular motif, the gas nozzle heads modified to look like guns or male genitalia. “Being a war survivor dominates one’s psyche. It is a layer that is not easily shed,” Alkadhi has said. “I use sarcasm, anger, sex, and humor to express the topics in question.”
Annabelle was inspired by his landmark sculpture Isabelle which was a site specific commission for Downtown Palm Springs, steps away from the Palm Springs Art Museum.
This sculpture is a departure from his previous series in several ways and presents an evolution of a new aesthetic with her body of work. Most of her work is introspect and reflects on the journey of personal growth in all aspects of life. Fire on the other hand is very extrovert piece, a testimony to confidence and independence.
Alexander Kroll fully embraced abstraction and improvisation in painting only after moving to Los Angeles: “I never planned these paintings,” he says. “In fact, they’re really a lot like Los Angeles: there is a total lack of concern with planning.” Kroll, who considers himself a lifelong student of the “technology of painting,” is known for his mixed-media, multi-layered works, in which oil, acrylic, and enamel bleed and run into one anther. Layers are integral to Kroll’s imagery and process; he employs underpainting, collage, and subtractive techniques to imbue a work with multiple surfaces. Since moving to California, Kroll has also been able to paint works in a greater variety of sizes, though he is careful no work is ever larger than his own arm span. In that way, all of his works physically correspond to his body.
Brad Miller’s abstract, mixed-media paintings, digital prints, sculptures, ceramics, and lithographs express the physical properties of organic systems. “Constantly reconfiguring nature’s most persistent ordering systems is central to my work,” he says. “Close packing, cracking, dendritic systems, and spirals are a few of these familiar images.” Regularly improvising during the process of creating work, he plays on the tension between order and disorder in the natural world, in works that engage color, line, and surface. Miller is not interested in mimesis alone, rather experimenting with a variety of image-making techniques, often unsure of what the final image will look like.
Kevork Mourad wants explores the role of memories as the inheritance of trauma, the troubled relationship between remembering and forgiveness. His goal is to work in media of painting, video, and live performance to find the way for hope and inspiration.
When an artist creates, something within her/his persona is released, and directed into the surface that receives the productive action. Mediated and shaped by the tools of practice, and the medium that the artist works with, the artwork comes to life as an extension of the creative impulses, growing and expanding until new meanings are generated. Working in this spontaneous flow, Moje Assefjah has been able to channel her artistic explorations into a distinctive visual vocabulary that celebrates organic forms.
Molly-Kate belongs to She project where Rania Matar focus on young women in thei twenties – the ages of her daughters, leaving the cocoon of home and entering adulthood. Matar photographed young women in relationship to the curated and controlled environment of their bedrooms.She portrays the raw beauty of their age, individuality, texture and mystery.
This work is from Tagreed Darghouth’s series “Chopped”.
Serwan Baran’s works are scoured from his memory whilst enlisted in the Iraqi army, the paintings thereby function like cognitive therapy on war – a way, perhaps, in which Baran comes to terms with his experiences and traumas.
Abdul Rahman Katanani plays with sombre themes. By upcycling and sculpting material found in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, Katanani transmutes banal items into art loaded with significance.