Emirati visual artist Maitha Abdalla is showcasing a new body of work at the Asia Now art fair in Paris from October 20 to 22, 2023.
Abdalla is an interdisciplinary artist known for her exploration of cultural narratives, often delving into themes of nostalgia, memory, and folklore. She uses these themes to question the power dynamics inherent in the parables she portrays.
Drawing inspiration from traditional storytelling across different cultures, Abdalla tackles issues of social and political identity by weaving theatrical narratives into her artwork. Her approach intentionally blurs the lines between Eastern and Western perspectives, creating surreal compositions that challenge the conventional boundaries of artistic disciplines.
At the Asia Now art fair, Abdalla will present a multi-disciplinary body of work encompassing charcoal and oil on canvas, works on paper, and an installation piece. These pieces were created during her 12-month residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, France which was supported by the UAE Ministry of Culture and Youth. This new series builds on her previous explorations, moving from an examination of the past and collective narratives to a more introspective trajectory.
Abdalla’s recent work features the forest as a central character in her compositions. The dark forest archetype, often seen as a symbol of the unconscious, plays a significant role in children’s fables, representing potential danger, disorientation, or a gateway to otherworldly realms. Abdalla appropriates this symbol to signify a journey through the forest, a voyage in which she leaves her comfort zone but never reaches her ultimate destination. Using a palette dominated by dark tones, in contrast to the vibrant pinks seen in her earlier works, the artist adeptly navigates parallel and conflicting emotions of ecstasy and isolation, purpose and emptiness.
Abdalla’s performance in Paris is set for October 19th. She will delve deeper into the themes explored in her body of work for the event. Abdalla’s performance will draw inspiration from traditional storytelling across diverse cultures, using theatrical narratives to explore themes of social and political identity. She will merge metaphors from European and Emirati mythology, blurring the lines between Eastern and Western perspectives, and challenging the boundaries of creative disciplines. In her performance, Abdalla will transition from an examination of the past to a more introspective exploration, conveying and exploring conflicting emotions such as ecstasy and isolation through her movements. She will embody various characters that contribute to her constructed realm, offering a transformative journey through her performance.
About Maitha Abdalla
Maitha Abdalla, a versatile Emirati artist, adeptly combines various artistic mediums such as film, photography, sculpture, painting, drawing, and performance in her practice.
She leverages the theatrical and constructed nature of the stage to explore a wide array of themes, spanning from folklore and mythology to gender, societal norms, and psychology. The theater, for Abdalla, serves as a canvas where she can confront and disrupt elements she’s encountered in her social milieu, memories, imaginings, and fantasies from a detached perspective. Her fantastical scenes oscillate between abstraction and representation, infused with a powerful blend of drama and melancholy.
Abdalla’s art represents an ongoing journey into self-discovery. She crafts characters that embody facets of her own identity, often confined within intimate domestic settings that lay bare their vulnerabilities. For Abdalla, her artistic process seamlessly extends into performance. She takes a tactile approach to painting, frequently applying thick layers of oil and acrylic paint with her fingertips and using gestural charcoal smears to outline her own figure.
Location: Monnaie de Paris, 11 quai de Conti, Asia Now
Dates: October 20 to 22, 2023