Showcased at the Sharjah Art Foundation and curated by Ryan Inouye, the works aim to depict the present moment and explore notions regarding surface and materiality. Inspired by social humanoid robot named 'Sophia' (made by Hong Kong-based company Hanson Robotics), on display at the exhibition is a video installation entitled Sophia (2018-2019) by freelance filmmaker and artist, Mohammad Al Faraj.
Mohammad Al Faraj, Sophia, 2018–2019. Video installation, plywood, computer, stereo speaker; 3 x 3 x 3 m, 10 minutes. Installation view: Surface Tension, Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah, 2019. Courtesy of the artist and Athr Gallery, Jeddah. Photo: Sharjah Art Foundation
Hailing from Saudi Arabia, Al Faraj has previously showcased his work across Dubai and Jeddah. “I think what really drove the idea into becoming this work was mainly seeing the robot Sophia being awarded the Saudi citizenship on TV, in contrast to my experience in trying to make a film about a group of displaced undocumented people in southern Saudi Arabia,” shares Al Faraj. “This was also my first attempt into balancing between the form and the content, make both influence each other in the work so that three chapters unfold in a sculpture of screens that's built and designed on three planes.”
Also on display is Instinct to destroy (2018) by Beirut-based artist Dala Nasser, which takes inspiration from renowned French artist Yves Klein, known for the development of International Klein Blue pigment in the sixties. “I melted silver dressings used to slowly release silver a disinfectant killing any micro-organisms living in the body and healing open wounds into the resin covering entirely the bed of International Klein Blue pigment,” says Nasser.
Dala Nasser, Instinct to destroy, 2018. Yves Klien pigment, liquid latex, resin, liquid silver leaf, discarded fabric; 230 x 180 cm. Installation view: Surface Tension, Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah, 2019. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Sharjah Art Foundation
“Yves Klein used the pigment as a way to distance himself from the production of his own artworks, most notably by employing female models to imprint their bodies on his canvases. You can say my piece Instinct to Destroy is my take on his contributions to the art historical canon.”
Adorning the floor of the exhibition space is Untitled (Private painting H1), 2019, a large painting by Brisbane-based Australian artist Dale Harding, made in collaboration with his cousin Hayley Matthew. Comprising dry pigment, gum arabic and acrylic on linen and walls, the work depicts the cousin duo’s familial inheritances as Aboriginal people living in the modern world.
Dale Harding, Untitled (Private painting H1), 2019. Dry pigment, gum arabic and acrylic on linen and walls; 3 x (250 x 150 cm), 3 x (150 x 150 cm); overall dimensions variable. Installation view: Surface Tension, Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah, 2019. Commissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation. Courtesy of the artist and Milani Gallery, Brisbane. Photo: Sharjah Art Foundation
“The completed panels of Untitled (Private painting H1) 2019, with the underpainting now abstracted in milky yellow hues, are seen as spent objects of a discreet process,” says Harding. “The painted canvas panels remain in the space as physical remnants now separated from their original purpose of Aboriginal cultural continuum.”
Surface Tension is on show at Galleries 4 and 6, Al Mureijah Square, Sharjah, until 7 September 2019 and is free to attend. Participating artists include Mohammad Al Faraj, Minam Apang, Dale Harding, Mire Lee, Randa Maroufi and Dala Nasser.