London gallery showcases Arab North African art experience

The five participants are Amadou El Fadni from Sudan, Souad Abdel Rasoul and Hani Rashid from Egypt, Elias Messaoudi from Tunisia and Combo from Morocco.
Tuesday 16/06/2020
Co-Exist-2019 (Diptych), 2019, COMBO (Sulger Buel Gallery)
Co-Exist-2019 (Diptych), 2019, COMBO (Sulger Buel Gallery)

LONDON--A virtual exhibition featuring five Arab artists provides an overview of the changes in North African societies in recent history.

“Amwaj” (“Waves” in Arabic), a virtual exhibition organised by the Sulger Buel Gallery in London, features five Arab artists from North Africa. The exhibition is available on the gallery’s official website until June 30.

The Lucky No. 3471, 2017, Amado Alfadni (Sulger Buel Gallery)
The Lucky No. 3471, 2017, Amado Alfadni (Sulger Buel Gallery)

Supervised by Libyan curator Najla Al-Ajili, the exhibition deals with various themes such as diaspora, racism, immigration and other regional and international issues.

It features five Arab artists from North Africa, showcasing Arab societies through a combination of realism and imaginative works.

The five artists are Amadou El Fadni from Sudan, Souad Abdel Rasoul and Hani Rashid from Egypt, Elias Messaoudi from Tunisia and Combo from Morocco.

Night 125 _ I travelled, and I have Corona, 2020, Ilyes Messaoudi, (Sulger Buel Gallery)
Night 125 _ I travelled, and I have Corona, 2020, Ilyes Messaoudi, (Sulger Buel Gallery)

The curator said that she wanted to focus on the art scene in North Africa through a group of artists whose work reflects its diverse culture, including through their influence from broader African culture.

The works give us a quick overview of the changes that have occurred in Arab societies in North Africa, especially during the past decade. When combined, these experiences represent a reflection of the diverse artistic scene of these countries.

Artist Amadou El Fadni, a Sudanese-Egyptian who spent his childhood between the two countries, looked far behind cultural barriers and how he used to view things around him.

My Last Meal, 2019, Soad Abdel Rassoul (Sulger Buel Gallery)
My Last Meal, 2019, Soad Abdel Rassoul (Sulger Buel Gallery)

He presented a group of pictures of African soldiers recruited by Britain in its various wars during the colonial era, with signs and symbols inspired by African culture.

He wanted to re-picture the lives of these African soldiers who were thrown into wars that should have never involved them, and who later suffered from marginalisation.

As for “Combo,” the Moroccan artist born in France to a Lebanese father and a Moroccan mother, he presented compelling street art combining popular cultural icons with myths in a comic/caricature style. Going by the name he uses to sign his art on walls, Combo’s works carry different messages about coexistence between various cultures and calls for peace. He often mixes his works with quotes on Muslim women and issues related to civil liberties and religious rights.

Tunisian artist Elias Messaoudi, born in 1990, uses several different techniques that reflect his influence by both France and Tunisia.

Messaoudi’s works use ancient Tunisian culture in a spontaneous style. He re-used some of them from his project called “Shahrazad’s 1001 night,” which included a series of paintings characterised by bright colours, which bring together famous Tunisian traditions with modern techniques.

Hani Rashid is considered one of the most prominent modern artists in Egypt today. In his works he brings his country’s popular culture to life with various techniques.

His works highlight the interrelationships between popular culture and the role of media and social media in our daily lives.

Among the works he presented are his paintings during the events of January 2011, in which he criticised the regime’s crackdown on protesters.

Also from Egypt, artist Souad Abdel Rasoul displayed works inspired by African culture. Impacted by multiple trips to sub-Saharan countries, Abdel-Rasoul sought to redefine the links between plants, animals and humans in her art.

Nature features prominently in the detailed artwork, pushing against the human-centric perspective often found in art.

Women also stand out in her works as one of the main parts of creation. However, and in her use of the image of women, the artist does not focus on beauty as much as the issues this gender faces.