Mohannad Orabi’s fascinating collage art is set to launch at Urbanist Art Gallery with a show titled ‘Colored Shadows’ on 25 November.
“Our dark reality and our heavy shadows and the shades of my plants that I love
I search in this darkness, I touch it, I try to understand it, I highlight it, I color it, I put my heroes in it, and I tell my story.
To be my sanctuary, my world with which I return to my colorful memory
With every painting I make, I record a trace of salvation.
Those are my colored shadows.”
The artist Mohannad Orabi presents, in his latest exhibition ‘Colored Shadows’ at Urbanist Art Gallery, a new experience in his artistic career. Fueled by memories of his childhood and reflections of his life in Canada, he creates collage pieces in a novel method. Orabi’s oeuvre in general has hints of primitivism, as he shares a “fascination with the development of consciousness in childhood,” (quoting the artist) particularly in the portraits of his previous work. In this new body of collage, some of which are monochromatic, and yet others a medley of colors, his process has been transformed. He paints, then cuts and pastes; he is building the surface of the work by inserting elements.
In my interview with the artist, he revealed that this very process is an act of survival. He is trying to fight the sadness “with color and hope”; the white of the negative space is bright and “filled with positivity” that helps him go on. One of the pieces has the pattern of the Palestinian keffiyeh; he painted the pattern then cut it and reassembled it. “It is a result of our interaction with the war in Gaza,” he shared with me. “I drew the scarf and then turned it into buds and leaves that bloom despite all the circumstances.”
In other works, he recreates the ceramic pots, which he recalls were in his grandfather’s house, colored in white and blue. He is trying to capture his memories, and the feelings associated with these memories; indeed, they seem to be “hidden in these ancient utensils.” The subject matter he chooses are objects loaded with symbolism. Another source of inspiration is the accumulation of leaves on the ground in front of his home in Canada, which is alluded to in the leaf-collage-pieces that he uses in his works.
I search in this darkness, I touch it, I try to understand it, I highlight it, I color it, I put my heroes in it, and I tell my story.Mohannad Orabi, artist
Mohannad Orabi is an award-winning artist with a BA from the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Damascus, which he earned in 2000. He has had numerous solo shows in Cairo, Amman, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Jeddah, Beirut and Damascus. He has also participated in collective shows in Sharjah, Kuwait, Venice, Dubai, Beirut, London, Geneva, Beijing and Damascus. Furthermore, he has participated in residencies and workshops in Dubai, Damascus and Jordan. Amongst the awards he has garnered is being included in the prestigious ‘100 Leading Global Thinkers’ by Foreign Policy, Washington D.C. USA in 2014.
Orabi is a trained professional artist creating powerful pieces in a pseudo-naïve style; this best emphasizes the visual impact of his pieces, which are loaded with poetry and personal references. The result is a heavily decorative and impactful collage-work in each piece. The uniqueness of his style is hard to escape, and one cannot but feel fascinated by the wonder and whimsy of his work.
Mohannad Orabi’s show ‘Colored Shadows’ opens at Urbanist Art Gallery on Saturday 25 November at 5pm, and will remain on display until 20 December 2023. Make sure to pass by and see the show!
The Gallery is located at Box Park Al Wasl Road in Dubai.
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