The National Pavilion United Arab Emirates (UAE) at the Biennale Arte 2022 is presenting an exhibition by Emirati artist Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim. The new body of work by the influential member of the UAE’s historic group of experimental, conceptual artists is a major installation titled “Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim:Between Sunrise and Sunset.” Featuring human-sized, abstract and organic importantant new 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 Sharjah.
Biennale Arte’s 2022 theme, ‘The Milk of Dreams,’ questions the representation of bodies and their metamorphoses, and the connection between bodies and earth. In character with this theme, 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 derive from his raw materials.
“’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,” Ibrahim, who has helped lead the vanguard of visual art in the UAE since the 1980s, said. “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.”
The exhibition is curated by Maya Allison, the Executive Director of The New York University Abu Dhabi Art Gallery, making it the fifth time Ibrahim and Allison collabortate together. And it will be accompanied by “Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim: Between Sunrise and Sunset / Works: 1986-2022,” the first comprehensive book on the the artist behind works like “Falling Stone Garden” and “Grocery.” Allison, who describes Ibrahim as a creative who “continues to evolve and deepen his practice, with a stubbornly persistent exuberance, nourished by his connection to his work and his artist community,” is also Co-Editor. It’s the third book she has worked on that studies Ibrahiim’s work. Cristiana de Marchi, an artist, curator, and poet based between Dubai and Beirut, who has a long record of work with and writing on this UAE art community, is the other Co-Editor. Multiple contributing writers have been asked to document the artist’s journey, work process and art forms to date in the book.
The 59th edition of the International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia (Venice Biennale), curated by New York-based Italian curator and artistic director Cecilia Alemani, will be open to the public between 23 April - 27 November 2022. The National Pavilion UAE, which is participating for the seventh time, is commissioned by the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation.
“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,.”Angela Migally, Executive Director of the foundation and commissioner of the National Pavilion UAE, said.
Supported by the Ministry of Culture and Youth, the permanent pavilion can be found at the Venice Biennale’s Arsenale – Sale d’Armi.