‘Fareed Abdal – A solo exhibition’


12 November 2019 – 9 January 2020

Fareed Abdal, a solo exhibition brings together ten new works in a first time exploration of woven art.  

Fareed Abdal (b. 1957, Kuwait) is an artist, architect, and educator. His practice probes into the inheritance of cultural constructs and is interested in what happens away from language in the relationship between form and concept. Though noted for incorporating Arabic text in his work –rather than use writing to delineate thought– his meandering and contortionist-like strokes complicate the experience of language and living. Working against Western rationalism, his work is rooted in Asian philosophy and spiritual practices of the East.

In this new body of work, Abdal culls a cohort of characters from a number of Eastern mythologies. Ten figures are made visible through interlocking Arabic letters, sometimes revealing words and fragments of poetry. Berber-like, the pieces combine flat and raised weaving techniques, and have a palette of 5 or 6 colors at the most. The pieces are composed of repetitions of bold strokes that double as locks of hair and clothing embellishments, and reflect a strong admiration of Eastern literature. In Moons of Time I&II, for example, Princess Budour and Prince Qamar are brought together by omnipresent external forces into a staggering love relationship, akin to the invisible algorithmic mechanisms of dating apps today. In Red-Veined Darter (or Nomad) the artist pays tribute to the migrant dragonfly whose arrival from Europe indicates the start of autumn, and for many comes as a sign of relief from the scorching heat of the desert summer. In Villager of the Abandoned Paradise, the artist mourns the loss of the land worker in the era of the Anthropocene. Abdal’s study of historical texts and motifs beckons viewers to revisit the past while thinking about the present and future. His ability to connect the ancient with the modern aspects of our lives is testament to the cyclical nature of mankind and leaves viewers oscillating between feelings of reassurance and irresolution.

The pieces in this exhibition were woven in Turkey on a traditional vertical loom. They are made from wool, plant fibers, and colored with natural dyes from various plant roots, leaves and berries. The artist expresses his deep gratitude to the management team of Samovar for its guidance and support in making this work possible.

Moons of Time II (Princess Bodour)
Fortune Teller