The Firetti Contemporary gallery is showcasing artworks of Sawsan Al Bahar, a talented Syrian-Palestinian artist whose practice is centred around reflecting on the generational departures in her family’s history. On view are her graphite drawings as well as Leaving is Home, her reinterpretated installation touching on the theme of immigration. One will be able to look at them until 1 November 2023.
Leaving is Home is composed of 3D-printed sheets inscribed with excerpts from her maternal grandfather Zuhair Al Samhoury’s memoir. Precisely, they are taken from an unfinished chapter in which he wrote about Jaffa, his hometown in Palestine, which he had to leave. At the beginning of the chapter, Al Samhoury recalls a youth spent in Jaffa. In the same chapter, these happy memories are followed by a description of his departure from the city for Damascus in 1947 with his mother and six sisters while his father was unable to join them. In the Leaving is Home installation, Al Bahar captures the ability of language to link the present and the past and explores the impact language has on personal history.
While the artist reconstructs the unfinished chapter from her grandfather’s memoir through the installation, in her drawings, she reassembles memories through everyday objects and places. They evoke a human presence through the traces left behind. Drawing some images from photos and some from imagination, Al Bahar depicts places and objects long gone (for example, a fruit plate in her grandmother’s kitchen) and thus recollects a loss she inherited.
About the artist
Sawsan Al Bahar is an artist, architect, and researcher based in Dubai who graduated from the American University of Sharjah in the Emirates with a BS in Architecture and Design. Besides, she has a minor in Visual Art. In 2019, the artist also studied at the Angel Academy of Art in Florence, France. As a sign of her recognition, in 2023, Al Bahar received the Massimiliano Galliani Drawing Under 35 Award. She was also granted the Sheikh Khalifa Scholarship Award (2011-2013).
In her work, Al Bahar easily swaps between artistic mediums: drawing, installation, printmaking, text, and digital scans. Focusing on the notion of home as a myth, she often narrates her story by employing content from her family’s history. She is also interested in such themes as time and politics.
Al Bahar has showcased her artworks in many exhibitions, which include WOOD you Rather be Happy (Firetti Contemporary, Dubai, 2023); Eyes Wide Shut (Firetti Contemporary, Dubai, 2022); Ghost Catcher (Luxembourg Pavilion, EXPO 2020, 2021); Covid Conversations (Tashkeel Art Hub, Dubai, 2020); The Figure in 4 Weeks (Chiaro Scuro Studio, Florence, 2018); Place & Unity (Maraya Art Centre, Sharjah, 2016); Mobious Design House (Sikka Art Fair, Dubai, 2015); and others.
To learn more about Leaving is Home and other Al Bahar’s artworks currently exhibited at Firetti Contemporary, please visit the gallery’s official website.
You might also be interested in looking through twelve historical photo albums launched by the Akkasah photo archive.