National Pavilion UAE at the Venice Biennale presents Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim

Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim

Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim
Between Sunrise and Sunset

April 23–November 27, 2022

United Arab Emirates Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
Arsenale – Sale d’Armi

The National Pavilion UAE announces its exhibition at the Biennale Arte 2022 (Venice Biennale) titled Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim: Between Sunrise and Sunset, which will present a new body of work by veteran Emirati artist Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim. Curated by Maya Allison, Executive Director of The New York University Abu Dhabi Art Gallery, the exhibition will present an installation of human-sized, abstract and organic sculptural forms, created for the National Pavilion UAE.

In resonance with the theme of the 2022 biennale, Ibrahim’s biomorphic sculptures cluster in undulating colour and movement – evoking 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 derives 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,” said Ibrahim. “The exhibition demonstrates the tension between Khor Fakkan’s colourful bright mornings, when the sun rises over the ocean, and the disappearance of colors 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. I am looking forward to showing my new installation, working alongside Maya Allison and the National Pavilion UAE, to represent my country in our upcoming presentation at the Venice Biennale in 2022.”

Curator Maya Allison commented, “Even after almost 4 decades of prolific art-making, the artist continues to deepen his practice, with a persistent exuberance, nourished by his connection to his work and his artist community. He has long worked against the odds of location and access, and I’m gratified to contribute to the knowledge of this artist by the wider art world. This is also a watershed moment for the work of the institutions that are supporting this project. Over the past decade, the National Pavilion of the UAE to the Venice Biennale, with the Sheikha Salama Foundation, has played a pivotal role in telling stories of the UAE’s culture and history on the global stage. During this same period, NYU Abu Dhabi’s commitment to The NYUAD Art Gallery exhibitions, publications, and curatorial fellowships have made possible our many-years study of the UAE’s art history. And today, I am grateful to all of these institutions for their combined support of the 2022 National Pavilion of the UAE to the Venice Biennale. Serious and important art has been made in the UAE for much longer than international art audiences may realize, and this moment is a welcome development of the historical record.”

The exhibition is Ibrahim and Allison’s fifth collaboration and the third book that Allison has produced that studies Ibrahim’s work, with the first two looking at his work in the context of his milieu. The accompanying publication, Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim: Between Sunrise and Sunset / Works 1986-2022 is the first monograph of Ibrahim’s work, and is co-edited by Allison and and Cristiana de Marchi, herself an artist, poet, and curator, who has worked on writing and editing publications related to this artistic community for some time. The editors have commissioned new texts that explore Ibrahim’s work from multiple vantage points, representing a major contribution to the UAE’s art history. Documenting and archiving part of the country’s longest-standing avant-garde art community, the book will make new material and histories available for future scholars, bringing these untold stories of the UAE into the contemporary art world narrative.

This exhibition marks the National Pavilion UAE’s move towards an artist-led approach, whereby Ibrahim nominated Allison to curate. The 59th International Art Exhibition at the Venice Biennale in 2022 will open to the public between April 23 and November 27, 2022.

“National Pavilion UAE, NYU Abu Dhabi and its Art Gallery are shaping the UAE’s cultural and scholarly efforts by realizing Ibrahim’s work process through the National Pavilion UAE’s 2022 exhibition, Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim: Between Sunrise and Sunset,” said Angela Migally, Executive Director, Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation, which commissions the National Pavilion UAE. “Together with the publication, this exhibition is a testament to our long-standing commitment to invest in people and the UAE’s art ecosystem – spearheading the growth and understanding of the UAE’s art and creative community. 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.”

Vice Chancellor of NYU Abu Dhabi Mariët Westermann said, “The Venice Biennale is one of the most significant and prestigious showcases for art in the world. We are incredibly proud that our Chief Curator, Maya Allison, was selected to curate the National Pavilion UAE this year. NYU Abu Dhabi has always been profoundly committed to the arts, from its museum quality Art Gallery and lively Performing Arts Center to its brand-new Master of Fine Arts. It is an honor for us to collaborate with the National Pavilion UAE and be part of such an important milestone in the global arts calendar. We look forward to seeing the exhibition come to life on this great world stage.”

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