The Quest : Curated by Nasser Abdullah

12 January - 26 February 2022

Aisha Alabbar Gallery is pleased to present The Quest, a group exhibition curated by Nasser Abdullah that features four UAE-based artists: Alia Hussain Lootah, Majd Alloush, Sara Ahli, and Zeina Al Kattan.

Taking inspiration from Amin Maalouf’s 2004 novel Origins, the exhibition explores life experiences that set forth an artist’s path. While these experiences are met on the search for answers about the meaning of life and its purpose, those who create through the lens of these accumulated experiences are the ones we call “artists.”

The quest to understand the purpose of this life varies across people and interests. Art appears to be an attempt to understand the contexts of the ever-changing reality in which we live, forcing the artist to experience several adventures, and follow history, news and anecdotes to obtain answers and come to realisations that would allow them to start a new artistic experience. This leads them to deeper, more profound questions, once again prompting a never-ending journey of reflection.

Considering the world’s change in the past two years, Alia Hussain Lootah chose to show the personal side of human experience during the pandemic. Using pen and paper, the artist’s drawings show chaotic paths but reflect the shape of disturbances that we experienced during that period at the personal and societal levels. These paths were turned into mini sculptures that embodied the turbulent lines. However, these lines are now at peace. Experiences become diverse and turn glossy black to reflect the effect of the darkness left by the pandemic.

Majd Alloush draws his geography by tracing the changes faced by cities worldwide due to wars and displacement. His creative practice challenges the notion of boundaries in concept, content, and medium by exploring psychology, geopolitics, society and environment to paint a more realistic picture of a world undergoing fast and radical changes. In Untitled Landmarks (2018), a silkscreen print series and Con-figuring (2020), a collection of 100 cubes of raw material experimentation such as cement – remnants of destruction – Majd unveils the reality of several global cities that suffered great devastation because of war.

Sara Ahli’s plaster-filled balloons recollect feelings of pain and suffering due to the various forms of continued pressure applied to them. Sara tests the balloon’s endurance and fragile rubbery structure by exerting forms of tension using pliers, stones, and building blocks. She reveals the limits of this structure in standing force and the changes it experiences until it reaches its final shape becoming attuned to its surroundings. The artist likens her process to how human experiences mark people as they become part of their physical, intellectual, and psychological formation, arguing that success in moving forward can be attained by achieving stability amid circumstances we were unable to resist.

Zeina Al Kattan went on a life-changing journey as she settled in the UAE after leaving her home country, Syria – a land witnessing fluctuation as transmitted to us through blurred images from unreliable media sources. She draws dark and ironic scenarios of the intertwined conditions of life. She assembles pictures of stories and from events that vaguely affected her. Her unique touch within her practice is how she uses advanced realistic drawing technologies, abstraction and symbolism to create a scenario that combines an alternate reality from dislocated feelings and memories.

The Quest presents a collection of young artistic experiences. Each artist chose their path in the local art scene and sheds light on the various aspects of life to reach their quest- to leave a mark on the artistic and human experience.