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…
Tomorrow I will be showing new paintings made during my Airgentum residency. The group show will be held in Sevilla at LITTLE estudio on Saturday June 22 starting at 1pm.
ABOUT MY WORK: Armonía وئام او انسجام
I have been living in the Middle east for the past five years. I moved with the hope of gaining a better understanding of the region and its people. From home, what I heard daily from the media was a frightening story of a dangerous place. As we know, the media often plays an important role in supporting political and social ideologies. I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to get to know so many wonderful people and cultures that are different than my own, yet similar in so many fundamental ways. People, who value hospitality, culture, family, security, diversity and community.
Coming to Andalusia to work, I knew there existed a long and important influence from the Arab world. This is visible in the architecture throughout the city of Sevilla. Of surprise to me was the Arabic influence on the spoken language.
In this work I use the dogs of Sierra Norte to draw attention to this intersection of cultures within language. I cut and layer images, shapes and words to draw attention to the places where East and West become so entangled that the influence of one on the other has been either forgotten, ignored or purposefully diverted. For me the dogs who guard and shepherd in the countryside, represent a force needed to guard and guide our understanding of both our own and the culture of others. By knowing how close we are, in a climate that creates power and control thorough difference and fear, we can build the understanding needed for peace and security.