In the Footsteps of Cai Lun II, a summer collective exhibition at Ayyman Gallery, sets the tone to reevaluate and revisit the medium of paper, as well as discover an array of artworks on paper by engaging artists.
The title of the exhibition references Cai Lun, he was a Chinese court official of the Eastern Han dynasty, and reportedly was critical in the creation of modern day paper. As Ayyman Gallery cite, some historians have claimed that the invention of paper arrived in the Middle East during the eighth century, after Abbasid forces captured Chinese papermakers in present-day Kazakhstan. Since then, the MENA region has used paper in many artistic fields, rendering it an important medium within the history of art of the region.
The exhibition features Tammam Azzam, Nihad Al-Turk, Mohammad Bozorgi, Thaier Helal, Samia Halaby, Athier Mousawi, and Faisal Samra, with each artist showcasing their use of different materials on paper, utilising its texture, fragility and impact. Subject matters cover the Syrian conflict, portraits of dissident Syrians, as well as studies of colour and experimentation. Paper absorbing all topics alongside rendering the intensity and depth of the works to carry their weight across the surface.
A diverse set of artworks, figurative and abstract, in colour and monochrome are present across the exhibition In the Footsteps of Cai Lun II, with paper being a link to all the artworks through the artist's varied materials and subject matters whether on the notion of conflict or on the understanding of an artist’s thought process. Across time, paper as a medium has soaked up extensive thoughts and brought out great art :
'Nothing is Certain, Everything is Melting, and that's Okay 14' by Athier Mousawi, 2020, Colour pencil and marker on paper, 27 x 35 cm
'99 moments' by Faisal Samra, 2019, Charcoal on paper, 21 x 14 cm - each
' New Orleans Harbour' by Samia Halaby, 1984, Acrylic added to silkscreen proof, 56 x 76 cm
'The Vanquished' by Nihad Al-Turk, 2015, Ink and acrylic on paper, 65 x 75 cm
'Youth' by Mohammad Bozorgi, 2008-2013, Ink on paper, 21 X 29 cm
'Nightmares of the Reeds 4' by Sadik Alfraji, 2019, Oil and ink on paper, 100 x 70 cm
'Laundry Series' by Tammam Azzam, Mixed Media on Paper, 70 X 100 cm
'Untitled' by Mustafa Fathi, Mixed media on paper, 21 x 33 cm
' Untitled' by Khaled Takreti, Oil on Paper, 58 X 129 cm
Exhibition from 18 May -to 5 September 2022
Ayyam Gallery, B11, Alserkal Avenue, Street 8, Al Quoz 1, Dubai
Pictures courtesy of Ayyman Gallery; copyright to the respective artists.
Exhbition view at Ayyam Gallery