Adel Abidin. Props (Detail). 2015
Unit 21, Alserkal Avenue
14 September – 10 November 2015
Lawrie Shabibi is pleased to present Immortals by Adel Abidin, the artist’s second solo exhibition at the gallery. Abidin, known for his arresting video installations, has embarked on a radical shift in his artistic and studio practice by returning to painting, for the first time since 2003. Here he will present four large-scale oil paintings and a hand-painted site-specific installation, entitled Breaking News..
Immortals takes a playful look at the manufactured nature of Arab media and raises important questions of the role that it has played in shifting geographic boundaries and allegiances. Working in a new medium, Abidin transfers to painting his graphic imagery and brand of ironic humour for which his video art is recognized.
Abidin takes his cue from the visual content and images of Arab news channels. The role of these news stations has become increasingly significant in the spread and containment of ideologies, revolutions and counter-revolutions. These often share similar graphics, blinking text, and staged TV press conferences, all of which Abidin sees as formulaic.
“Over time these news channels have developed a typical method of presenting announcements to their audiences” comments the artist “this is something I want my own audience to reflect on”.
Despite this, since the start of Arab Spring Abidin, like many from the region, has felt impelled to follow the news. Eventually he began to switch off from the content of the televised pronouncements, focusing instead on the visual impact of the presentations. He continues:
“Once following the news, I was shocked when I saw the broadcast of one cleric speech. That broadcast made me stop following the speech and forced me to pay my full attention to the amount of microphones. Layers and layers of very well designed colourful microphones were set in a way that I could barely see the face of the speaker.
“ Thus his starting point for each of these paintings is these microphones, making them – rather than the spokesman – the focus of the works. Branded by each media corporation’s logo and colour, these inanimate objects form the compositions of the paintings. In some they appear as large-scale figurative arrangements; in others as vibrant lollipops or playful toys. By appropriating and re-proportioning these nominally innocent inanimate objects they become tantalizing and seductive messengers in their own right, forceful vehicles of propaganda, legitimizing the absent speaker implied by them.
The site-specific installation Breaking News compliments this series of paintings. Applied directly onto the walls of the gallery, and wrapping around the rooms, it reproduces the banner lines so typical of TV breaking news announcements. The text itself is tongue in cheek, with reference to the lyrics of the Beatles song ‘Yesterday’.
About Adel Abidin :
Adel Abidin (b. Baghdad, 1973) received a bachelor's degree in Painting from the Academy of Fine Arts in Baghdad in 2000 and a Master's degree in Media and New Media Art from the Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki, Finland in 2005 where he continues to live and work.
Abidin has exhibited in numerous group and solo exhibitions: ‘Home Ground: Contemporary Art from the Barjeel Art Foundation’, Aga Khan Museum, Toronto, Canada (2015); ‘Anxiety and Other Ways of Being’, Rapid Pulse International Performance Art Festival, Chicago, Illinois, USA (2015); ‘All the World’s a Mosque’, Bardo Museum, Carthage, Tunisia (2015); ‘Face to Face’, KIASMA Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Finland (2015); ‘Aide-Mémoire: Footnotes’, Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah, UAE (2015); ‘Culture of Peace’, Lajevardi Collection, Tehran, Iran (2015); 'Cover-up!', Al Sultan Gallery, Kuwait (2014); ‘Life is Short, Lets Have an Affair’, Muu Gallery, Helsinki, Finland (2014); ‘Entre Nosotros / Between Us, Video art from the Middle East and North Africa in a Global World’, Etopia Center for Art and Technology, Zaragoza, Spain (2014); ‘Music Palace’, Fondation Boghossian, Villa Empain, Brussels, Belgium (2014); ‘The Jerusalem Show VII’, Jerusalem, Palestine (2014); 'Simple past, perfect futures', Le CENQUATRE-PARIS, Paris, France (2014); 'Shifting Identities', MACRO, Rome, Italy (2014); 'Collective Reaction, Station Museum, Houston, Texas, USA (2014); 'Here and Elsewhere', New Museum, New York, USA (2014); 'Songs of Loss and Songs of Love', Gwangju Museum of Art, South Korea (2014); 'Late Modern and Contemporary Art', National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2014). Previously he has taken part in group exhibitions at KIASMA Museum of Contemporary Art (Helsinki); The DA2 Domus Atrium 2002 Centre of Contemporary Art (Salamanca); Location One Gallery (New York City); Mori Art Museum (Tokyo); the 17th Sydney Biennale (Aksanat, İstanbul), Forum Box Gallery, (Helsinki); the Biennale of Contemporary Art of Bosnia; Hauser & Wirth Gallery (London); Singapore Art Museum; Museum of Anthropology (Vancouver); MOCCA (Toronto); Mead Gallery (UK); Espace at Louis Vuitton (Paris); MAC-VAL Museum (Paris); the 10th Sharjah Biennial; the 52nd Venice Biennale and the 54th Venice Biennale where he represented Finland and the Iraq; as well as solo shows at L'Institut du Monde Arabe (Paris); Kunsthalle Winterthur (Switzerland); Darat al-Funun (Amman) and Wharf: Centre d'Art Contemporain de Basse (Normandy).
His works are in the collections of public institutions and major private collections including the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia; Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah, UAE; Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, Qatar; KIASMA, Helsinki, Finland; Espoo Museum of Modern Art (EMMA), Helsinki, Finland; Nadour Collection and Kamel Lazaar Collection. In 2012 Abidin received a Five Years Grant from The Art Council of Finland and was a nominee for the Ars Fennica Prize in 2011. Abidin is currently exhibiting at the 56th Venice Biennale as part of the group show Glasstress and The Great Game (Iranian Pavillion).
About Lawrie Shabibi:
Lawrie Shabibi is a contemporary art gallery housed in a 3000 square foot warehouse in Dubai's Alserkal Avenue. The gallery’s programme supports international contemporary artists mainly from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. By holding a regular programme of exhibitions, screenings and talks, publishing catalogues and participating in international art fairs, the gallery engages the wider local and international community.
The gallery represents Hamra Abbas, Adel Abidin, Farhad Ahrarnia, Wafaa Bilal, Asad Faulwell, Nadia Kaabi-Linke, Taus Makhacheva, Nabil Nahas, Driss Ouadahi, Nathaniel Rackowe, Marwan Sahmarani, Larissa Sansour, Yasam Sasmazer, Mona Saudi, Shahpour Pouyan and Adeel uz Zafar.