Exhibition Opening: وئام او انسجام armonía
June 23, 2019
Artist Residency and Exhibition
We had an excellent turn out for the exhibition yesterday including some great conversations. The works on display were created during the Airgentum residency. Many thanks for Martina Durendez, director of Airgentum, for her hospitality and dedication to organizing and promoting our works. Also special thanks to Juan Carlos Romero Marquez for writing about the show and to all those who came out to view the exhibition.
During the opening I had a few questions about the dogs. What I wrote in my artist statement was that the dogs are guardians and shepherds and I used them to represent this same force towards the preservation of culture and identity, outside of political and social agendas.
However, I must confess that they are also a bit cynical when I think about how an artist might make their career as a painter. Often this is by painting portraits of peoples’ dogs. Aside from my own observations, one of the other artists in the show told me that a few of her recently graduated students were doing just that to make their living. Another told me about a gallery where most of the works sold were of dogs, despite having a range of thoughtfully curated artworks.
I was thinking about the practice of painting in contemporary society and how the dogs could also be a way to get peoples’ attention. I wanted something that people could easily connect with.
When formulating my ideas I was also thinking about an intervention by Banksy, which I think is really ingenious (also cynical). He painted an image of a kitten on the side of a destroyed building in Palestine. He writes: “A local man came up and said ‘Please – what does this mean?’ I explained I wanted to highlight the destruction in Gaza by posting photos on my website – but on the internet people only look at pictures of kittens.”
Dogs and Cultural Difference
Finally, one of my new friends was asking me about what my plans were to show the work in the future. He was concerned that I shouldn’t bring it back with me to Saudi. This is because in the Muslim world dogs are considered to be unclean and dirty and it is thought that they shouldn’t be kept inside as pets. I hadn’t considered this as the work was created for an Andalousian audience. I will try to find a home for the work here when I leave so that it can maintain it’s specific cultural associations. Understanding differences, finding commonalities, beliefs and customs that separate and those, which join us…