For an optimal view of our website, please rotate your tablet horizontally.
59th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia
23 April - 27 November 2022
Artist: Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim
Curator: Maya Allison
Venue: Arsenale - Sale d'Armi
See the contact and venue
The National Pavilion UAE's exhibition at the Venice Biennale 2022 titled Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim: Between Sunrise and Sunset presents a new body of work created by Emirati artist Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim, a veteran of the experimental art community in the UAE. 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.
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.
In resonance with the general theme of the 59th International Art Exhibition, The Milk of Dreams, 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 materials of the work: 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.
Mohamed Ahmed 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 colorful bright mornings, when the sun rises over the ocean, and the disappearance of colors 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."
Curator Maya Allison 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 4 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. For many years he worked against the odds of location and access, and I’m gratified to see the exposure and recognition of this artist by the wider art world. This is a watershed moment for the work of the institutions that are supporting this project." Allison added, "Over the past decade, the National Pavilion of the UAE to the Venice Biennale has played a pivotal role in telling stories of the UAE’s culture and history on the global stage. During this same period, NYU Abu Dhabi’s commitment to The NYUAD Art Gallery exhibitions, publications, and curatorial fellowships have made possible our sustained study of the UAE’s art history. Today, I am grateful to both of these institutions for their partnership in support of the 2022 National Pavilion of the UAE to the Venice Biennale. Serious and important art has been made in the UAE for much longer than international art audiences may realize, and I look forward to contributing again to the development of the historical record."
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 special 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 editors have commissioned new texts that comprehensively explore Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim’s work, representing a major contribution to the UAE’s art history, documenting and archiving part of the country’s long-standing experimental art community. The book will make new material and histories available for future scholars, bringing these untold stories of the UAE into the contemporary art world narrative.
Laila Binbrek, Coordinating Director, National Pavilion UAE – La Biennale di Venezia, said, "Between Sunrise and Sunset presents important new sculptural forms by Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim, who has been one of the influential members of the UAE’s long-standing avant-garde community since the early 1980s. Ibrahim confronts his imagination to encompass his deep connection to the UAE’s natural environment. Through this exhibition the National Pavilion UAE highlights a member of the UAE’s extraordinary community of well-established artists as we continue our commitment to reveal the untold stories of the UAE."
Angela Migally, Executive Director, Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation, commissioner of the National Pavilion UAE, said, "National Pavilion UAE, NYUAD and its Art Gallery are shaping the UAE’s cultural and scholarly efforts by realizing Ibrahim’s work process through the National Pavilion UAE’s 2022 exhibition, Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim: Between Sunrise and Sunset. Together with the publication, this exhibition is a testament to our long-standing commitment to invest in people and the UAE’s art ecosystem - spearheading the growth and understanding of the UAE’s art and creative community. Extraordinary artists like Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim deserve global recognition and the Venice Biennale is a catalyst to providing a unique opportunity to connect with an important international audience and engage in global cultural dialogue tying to the untold stories of the UAE art community and beyond."
Vice Chancellor of NYU Abu Dhabi Mariët Westermann said, "The Venice Biennale is one of the most significant and prestigious showcases for art in the world. We are incredibly proud that our Chief Curator, Maya Allison was selected to curate the National Pavilion UAE this year. NYU Abu Dhabi has always been profoundly committed to the arts, from its museum quality Art Gallery and lively Performing Arts Center to its brand new Master of Fine Arts. It is an honor for us to collaborate with the National Pavilion UAE and be part of such an important milestone in the global arts calendar. We look forward to seeing the exhibition come to life on this great world stage."
Through participation at La Biennale di Venezia (Venice Biennale), the National Pavilion United Arab Emirates - La Biennale di Venezia (NPUAE) supports the arts and architectural practices of the UAE on an international platform, and promotes a cultural dialogue between the UAE and the international community.
The UAE's participation at La Biennale di Venezia commenced in 2009 with a national pavilion at the 53rd International Art Exhibition, and has continued in subsequent editions of the art exhibition. In 2022, it is participating for the 11th time in the International Art Exhibition. [see all the editions in UiU]
The National Pavilion UAE also organizes the Venice Internship, offering opportunities to young residents of the UAE through a one-month internship on site in Venice acting as custodians and docents of the National Pavilion. Rotated on a monthly basis throughout the six months of the biennale, the different intern groups oversee the daily operations of the exhibition and participate in an educational program, run in partnership with Ca' Foscari University and other cultural institutions in the UAE and Venice.
The National Pavilion UAE - La Biennale di Venezia is commissioned by the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation, and supported by the UAE Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development.
The Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation (SHF) is a private not-for-profit foundation committed to the cultivation of a more creative, connected and thriving UAE community. Based in Abu Dhabi, SHF oversees a diverse portfolio of not-for-profit programs and initiatives spanning the arts, culture, heritage, human development and early childhood development in the UAE and internationally. Underpinning SHF's activities is a common ambition to invest in the knowledge and capabilities of the UAE people in order to support them to unlock their full potential.
The Ministry of Culture and Youth works to enrich the cultural ecosystem in the UAE through initiatives and policies that stimulate the development of the cultural and creative industries and its contribution to the country's GDP, developing new legislation and policies that promote integrated media growth in the country and creating avenues for the youth to invest their capabilities in the aforementioned fields.
The Ministry of Culture and Youth is responsible for empowering and engaging the youth in the UAE by enhancing their leadership skills, involving them in decision-making process and programs, and giving them opportunities to contribute to the creative development of the country.
From press information.
© Photos: Haupt & Binder, Universes in Universe.
© Portrait photos: Courtesy of National Pavilion UAE.