Universes in Universe

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Shakir Hassan Al Said, Ebtisam Abdulaziz

In the adjacent section, are a number of works by celebrated Iraqi artist Shakir Hassan Al Said. On the far right, is a piece called Al-Muntassirun (The Victorious), which belongs to a series of mixed media, tactile works where he suspends isolated Arabic letters—in this case the waw—against abstracted compositions, suggestive of graffiti written on a concrete wall. In the mid-20th Century, a number of artists in the Arab region began exploring the Arabic letter as a source of inspiration, and Al Said was chief among them. This painting, from a later period, represents the artist’s aesthetic theory and corresponding artists’ group, One Dimension founded in 1971, which explores the spiritual, dimensions of calligraphic representation and contemplates the dimensions of the pictorial surface. Incorporating philosophical sources such as Sufi thought and Deconstruction, Al Said’s approach to art making experimented with repetitive gestures and lacerations of pictorial surfaces as a way to transcend into the realm of the divine, considered the One Dimension.

Also in view (first from left) is a contemporary work by Ebtisam Abdulaziz My Home, My Studio from 2010, where she documented an experience of being driven from her house to her studio, using a coded system of numerical data. During the trip, the artist observed and recorded the number plates of cars driving in front, mapping those numbers on a canvas through domino blocks. Trained in mathematics and science, Abdulaziz places her practice within self-devised structures and systems. She creates codes and graphic language to explore issues surrounding her personal identity and culture through installation, performance and works on paper.

Text by Sarah Rogers and Suheyla Takesh

© 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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