Abdul Rahman Katanani’s new exhibition Life is dedicated to women and will be on view at Analix Forever on the 12th of February until the 28th of April.
Abdul Rahman Katanani claims freedom, and, more specifically in “Life”, the freedom of women. To assert this freedom, Katanani, as the artist he is, creates artworks – and represents women in their most sumptuous beauty: he sculpts vulvas. He cuts, folds, crumples, crushes, welds, multicoloured oil cans, sculpts in them all the folds nature invented for vulvas, folds of mystery and folds of beauty. The full beauty of anatomy is there, poetic, individual and diversified, voluptuous and free.
This series by Abdul Rahman Katanani stems from an eminently political desire to show what is hidden. The artist refuses the secular cultural will to consider the vulva as shameful, and, contrarywise, pays homage to its very existence.
“I come from a culture of modesty, where you have to cover up, explains Abdul Rahman Katanani, a culture in which the vulva is considered shameful. My work is subversive because I look at it and represent it as I would a represent a face, in harmony with the whole body and the curves of the earth. My sculptures look like flowers, something very natural, very beautiful, that you can see every day in nature. They are flowers. They speak of beauty, power and pride. While looking at my artworks, you ask yourself the question: “Is it a flower or is it a vulva?” In reality, they are both flowers and sexual icons. My sculptures represent life.”
Humanist and feminist
We knew Abdul Rahman Katanani to be a humanist, but whoever is a humanist is necessarily a feminist. As a convinced and actively committed “fourierist”, Katanani considers, after Charles Fourier, that men’s freedom is subordinated to women’s freedom. The artist claims for the vulva a status equal to that of the phallus, as does Georges Devereux (Baubo, La vulve mythique, Payot essais, 2021).
An aesthetic and philosophical position
The position of Abdul Rahman Katanani is an aesthetic and philosophical one. His sculptures of vulvas are representations of an idea, the idea of the global woman as the “poetic center” of nature. A center that he highlights the vulva in glory. On the first floor of the gallery, the flowers of Abdul Rahman Katanani live in bouquets, and bloom, flourish and shine. Barbed wire stems happily carry metal flowers, “flowers of good”. They remind us that Abdul Rahman Katanani is a man of joy, for whom the ephemeral, tomorrow and always, comes to life again.
Chastity belts defy life. This practice dates back to the Crusades and was meant to ensure that women would not “betray” their husband while on leave for war. Abdul Rahman Katanani considers these belts as a negation of life, and sculpts them as iron belts reminiscent of the concrete “belt” in which he lived for decades. They are part of “Life” too. Nietzschean as he is, the artist wants to represent life in its totality.
In parallel, in the Art & Music space, Iranian-born photographer Maryam Ashrafi will present, for the first time in a gallery, a selection of her photographs of Kurdish women.
Exhibition is on view at Analix Forever until the 28th of April.