The exhibition will present a new body of work created for the National Pavilion UAE by Emirati artist Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim, a veteran of the experimental art community in the UAE.
The 59th International Art Exhibition at the Venice Biennale in 2022 (Biennale Arte 2022) will open to the public between 23rd April – 27th November, 2022.
This exhibition marks the National Pavilion UAE’s seventh participation at the Biennale Arte, along with its move towards an artist-led approach whereby Ibrahim nominated Allison to curate the exhibition.
The 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia is curated by New York-based Italian curator and artistic director Cecilia Alemani under the theme “The Milk of Dreams,” which questions the representation of bodies and their metamorphoses, and the connection between bodies and earth.
HE Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth, said, “Emirati artists enjoy the support of the Ministry of Culture and Youth, which leads the cultural and creative sector in the UAE, and works to strengthen the UAE’s position on the global creative map. Our participation embodies the conducive cultural climate of the UAE that highlights diversity and enables the development of a thriving artistic scene. At the ministry, we believe in empowering our artists and creators for them to contribute to the country’s holistic and sustainable development.“
She explained that the exhibition will contribute to enriching the art movement in the UAE, showcase Emirati art to a wider cross-section of audiences and make it accessible to the world. “The UAE is an ideal platform for artists to grow and showcase their talent. We have legislations, infrastructure, equipment and advanced technologies to help them possess their art. Our participation will be an incentive for creative people to present innovative cultural and artistic works that reflect the development of our cultural sector, enhance the UAE’s positive image and keep up with its outstanding position globally.”
Curated by Maya Allison, Executive Director of The New York University Abu Dhabi Art Gallery, Between Sunrise and Sunset is an installation of human-sized, abstract and organic sculptural forms. The work draws from Ibrahim’s deep connection to the local environment of his hometown, Khor Fakkan – a city harbouring the rocky Al Hajar mountains on the east coast of the Emirate of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates.
In resonance with this theme, Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim‘s biomorphic sculptures cluster in undulating colour and movement – suggesting bodies, mutation, and metamorphosis. These forms arrive from his physical dialogue with the work materials: accretions of papier-mâché are built up over loose skeleton structures that shift and settle into their final position as he works. Often incorporating actual earth, leaves, tea, coffee, and tobacco, the texture of the forms derives from his raw materials.
Ibrahim said, “Between Sunrise and Sunset highlights the connection I have with the nature of Khor Fakkan – my hometown and the place I continue to live in. The exhibition demonstrates the tension between Khor Fakkan’s colourful bright mornings, when the sun rises over the ocean, and the disappearance of colours in mid-afternoon when the sun drops behind the mountains that loom over my hometown. We can never see the sunset in Khor Fakkan, but we can imagine it on the other side of the UAE. I am looking forward to showing my new installation, working alongside Maya Allison and the National Pavilion UAE, to represent my country in our upcoming presentation at the Venice Biennale in 2022.“
Allison, in turn, said, “Over the years, I have closely observed Ibrahim’s work process and its intense and intimate relationship with each environment he encounters, whether that be the rocky mountainous landscape of his lifelong home, or the landscapes of his residencies in Holland, France, India, and beyond. Even after almost four decades of art-making, the artist continues to evolve and deepen his practice, with a stubbornly persistent exuberance, nourished by his connection to his work and his artist community.”
Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim: Between Sunrise and Sunset marks Ibrahim and Allison’s fifth collaboration together and the third book that Allison has worked on that studies Ibrahim’s work – marking a unique collaboration for them.
In the first monograph on the artist, the exhibition’s accompanying publication, Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim: Between Sunrise and Sunset / Works: 1986-2022, is co-edited by Maya Allison and Cristiana de Marchi, artist, curator, and poet based between Dubai and Beirut, who has a long record of work with and writing on this UAE art community.
The National Pavilion UAE is commissioned by the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation and supported by the Ministry of Culture and Youth, with a permanent pavilion at the Venice Biennale’s Arsenale – Sale d’Armi.