30 September, 2020 - 22 October, 2020

Wallpaper

Albareh Art Gallery is pleased to announce its participation in the Spring of Culture 2020 with Wall paper, the second solo exhibition of the works of leading Lebanese artist, Zena Assi at Albareh. The exhibition vernissage will be at 7 p.m. on Tuesday 17th, March, 2020 in Albareh Art Gallery.

 

This new body of work has been produced in her London studio. It consists of paintings on canvas, etching prints, experimental animation movie as well as drawings on paper.  It is an attempt to put on record how our urban contemporary environment is constantly changing and how our society’s ideologies and political tendencies are playing a major role in this change.

 

The pieces explore the issue of migration and the relation between altering memories and people on the move. Some works play on the idea of belonging and raise the question of identity and patriotism, while others reflect on the refugee/migrant crisis and the unfortunate urge of some countries to build walls again.

 

It is about the emotional, social and cultural baggage due to displacement and the cross-cultural conflicts caused by this. It deals with the struggle of questioning our own culture when faced with a new one, of tackling issues of identity when we are rewriting our own stories based on tainted memories. The canvas is treated as a fabric, a kaleidoscope of symbols, either flowers weaved in patterns or cities forming an urban tissue like fading images on a paper wall.

 

About the artist

Born in Lebanon, in 1974, Zena Assi lives and works between Beirut and London.

 

She graduated with honors from l’Academie Libanaise des Beaux Arts (ALBA), worked in advertising and taught in different universities.
Her contemporary work draws inspiration from the relations and conflicts between the individual and his spatial environment, society and its surroundings.
The artist uses various supports and mediums to document and explore the cultural and social changes and put on record our urban contemporary environment’s imprint as well as the impact of our society’s ideologies and political tendencies. Her work takes shape in installation, drawing, etching, experimental animation, sculpture and mainly painting. Themes that are central to her vision include present-day issues, like migration and the relation between memories and people on the move.
 

Many of her pieces are repeatedly shown in different international auction houses (Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Bonhams and Phillips) and are part of various public as well as private collections (Academie Libanaise des beaux Arts in Beirut, Barjeel Art Foundation in Sharjah and Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris). Assi has exhibited in solo as well as collective shows across Europe, the Middle East and the United States of America including- Alwane gallery (Beirut Lebanon), Subtitled Apeal Royal College of Art (London UK), Artsawa gallery (Dubai UAE), Zoom Art Fair (Miami USA), Espace Claude Lemand (Paris France), Cairo Biennale (Cairo Egypt), Katzen Arts Center of American University (Washington D.C. USA), Rebirth Beirut Exhibition Center (Beirut Lebanon), Albareh gallery (Manama-Kingdom of Bahrein), CAP Contemporary Art Platform Gallery Space (Kuwait), Art13 & Art14 London Fair (London UK), IWM Imperial War Museum (London UK), IMA Institut du Monde Arabe (Paris France) and the 57th Venice Art Biennale (Venice Italy).

 

Artist’s statement- WALLPAPER- 2020

 

Zena Assi’s new body of work includes various mediums and supports, such as painting, etching, experimental animation movie, embroidery and drawing. It is an attempt by the artist to put on record how our urban contemporary environment is constantly changing, and how our society’s ideologies and political tendencies play a major role in this change.

 

The exhibition explores the issue of migration and the relation between altering memories and people on the move. Some works play on the idea of belonging and raise the question of identity and patriotism, while others reflect on the emotional, social and cultural baggage due to displacement and the cross-cultural conflicts caused by this.

 

How do we see our life stories based on tainted memories? A pareidolic, for example, would see shapes emerging from a complex pattern of inkblots, tiles, clouds or wallpapers; the brain tries to make sense of any mess by making predictions about what we will see based on our past experience, and then subtly projecting those expectations onto the visuals presented to us.

 

The show explores how human behavior is dually dictated by the conscious and unconscious mind, between individual and collective consciousness. The unconscious brain often acts as a pattern recognition machine, but our perceptions can be affected by our beliefs, desires and emotions, and we see some patterns more readily than others. The works in the collection explore this theme through imagery, by constructing larger images out of smaller ones, recognizing that our preconceptions and associations with symbols can directly affect the way we perceive the world.

 

Zena Assi