Universes in Universe

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Exhibition view

In the centre of this section, is Algerian painter Mohammed Issiakhem’s work Woman and Wall from the year 1980. An Algerian woman with pursed lips and downcast eyes, encircled in kohl, stares into the distance in quiet contemplation. She holds her hands together against her abdomen in a self-contained posture. She is dressed in traditional Amazigh garb and jewellery that Issiakhem renders with exquisite attention to the tactile nature of layered fabric. Through the use of a ghostly monochromatic palette infused with light, the figure is both framed by and blends into the wall against which she stands. Its details reveal graffiti-like references to the Algerian War (1954-1962), in particular its final turbulent year before Algeria gained independence from France. The left of the canvas has the letters "FLN" and "OAS" in vertical succession; the former referring to the Algerian National Liberation Front; the latter, the French Paramilitary Secret Army Organisation. This painting belongs to a series that Issiakhem undertook during the 1970s and 1980s, which focused on the figure of the everyday woman in the decades following independence.

Text by Sarah Rogers and Karim Sultan

© Photo: Courtesy of Barjeel Art Foundation, Photography by Capital D Studio

A Century in Flux - photos

Highlights from the Barjeel Art Foundation. Sharjah Art Museum, UAE, 12 May 2018 - 31 May 2023. Curators: Salwa Mikdadi, Mandy Merzaban, Karim Sultan.

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