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The Mosaic Rooms 10 Years

Modern Masters and Contemporary Culture from the Arab World and Iran


To celebrate The Mosaic Rooms’ 10th anniversary, we present an ambitious programme of exhibitions and events running from spring 2018 to autumn 2019. Overseen by Rachael Jarvis, director of The Mosaic Rooms, the season is made up of six exhibitions split into two alternating strands: a series focussed on seminal Arab and Iranian modernist artists from Egypt, Iran and Morocco curated by Morad Montazami and a series of group shows presenting contemporary art from these three countries organised in partnership with regional institutions and curators.

The season launches this April with a solo exhibition dedicated to the influential Egyptian modernist painter Hamed Abdalla (1917-1985). Entitled ARABÉCÉDAIRE, a play on the French word ‘abécédaire’ meaning a visual alphabet primer. Abdalla’s work centred on his development of the word-form, written words expressed in paint, blending abstraction and human forms. The exhibition focuses on six key words and uses Abdalla’s personal archives and library and to explore his visual language and political ideas.

For summer 2018, The Mosaic Rooms collaborates with Cairo’s well-known Townhouse gallery to present What do you mean, here we are?, a group exhibition featuring the work of contemporary artists such as Mona Hatoum, Susan Hefuna, Basim Magdy and Wael Shawky. Through a series of artworks and archival material the exhibition tells the story of Townhouse’s evolution from a modest start in the backstreets of downtown Cairo to its emergence at the centre of the regional art scene and into more recent periods of turmoil and re-configuration.

The modernist exhibition strand continues this autumn with a focus on the Iranian painter Behjat Sadr (1924-2009) uncovering the talent and extraordinary vision of this overlooked artist. Behjat Sadr: Dusted Waters will bring together a rare selection of key works by the artist alongside her diaries, poems, dreams and fears, relation to Persian poetry and poets and inner struggles as a woman who had to fight a male dominated art scene. The display will reveal Sadr’s dramatic artistic journey against the backdrop of political events and explore how she paved the way for future generations of women Iranian artists. 

2019 opens with When Legacies Become Debts, an exhibition and series of conversations curated by Azar Mahmoudian. The program contemplates personal and collective reliances between two generations of artists and writers in the contemporary Iranian context. It asks how can one deal with artistic and intellectual inheritances that are desired or unwanted, reassuring or questionable? Opening on 18 January 2019, the programme brings to centre stage the dynamics of artistic research and production as a series of indebted relationships, whether pedagogical, discursive or material.

To complete the modernist series in spring 2019 The Mosaic Rooms present works by the abstract painter Mohamed Melehi (b. 1936) and the Casablanca art school. Melehi’s own work results from a dialogue between Moroccan traditional and popular craft, whilst also connecting to the hard edge painters of the 50’s and 60’s. Paintings by Melehi, canvases of bright flat colour with his characteristic wave motif, will be shown alongside works by other influential figures from this transformative art school.

Bringing the 10th anniversary programme to a close, The Mosaic Rooms in collaboration with Morocco-based Kulte Gallery organise RAW QUEENS, a group exhibition curated by Yasmina Naji. The exhibition explores art, feminism and decolonisation and features work by artists including Fatima Mazmouz and Meriem Bennani.

For more information about the series please contact press [at] mosaicrooms.org


Image credit: Art and Freedom, Broomberg & Chanarin, 2010. Courtesy of the artists and Lisson Gallery.

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