Mandy El-Sayegh rose
Mandy El-Sayegh: A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose
   Reading 5 min

On 22 February 2024, Lawrie Shabibi will launch a solo show by artist Mandy El-Sayegh titled A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose, which delves into resistance, reclamation, and the intersection of visual and auditory narratives. It will be on view until 4 April 2024. One is invited to join the opening reception and exhibition walkthrough with the artist herself. Led by Sara Raza (the show’s curator), it will last from 6 PM to 9 PM. Raza has also contributed an essay providing a deeper understanding of El-Sayegh’s work and the themes addressed in the show.

Displaying El-Sayegh’s rebellious approach to visual storytelling, the exhibition will encompass painting, installation, and video. It will also feature a commissioned soundwork by British-Egyptian sound artist Sami El-Enany. Additionally, El-Sayegh and movement artist Chelsea Gordon will present a performance they co-created. It will take place on 27 February, at 8:30 PM.

Mandy El-Sayegh, Burning Square: Deeds for the dead, 2023 (detail).
Oil and acrylic on canvas with collaged and silkscreened elements, joss paper, and gold leaf.
168.5 x 176 x 4.5 cm l 66 3/8 x 69 1/4 x 1 3/4 in

With the help of the bricolage technique, El-Sayegh connects popular visual materials from a full range of sources to produce diverse art pieces exploring such themes as poetry, migration, movement, rebellion, and remembrance. In her site-specific installations, she plasters sheets from newspapers of different colours and silkscreened texts onto the walls and floor of an exhibiting space, so Lawrie Shabibi’s space will not be an exception. Visitors will also see El-Sayegh’s stretched canvases and unfinished paintings full of intricate patterns and symbolic references.

The exhibition’s title is a line in the Sacred Emily (1913) poem written by American novelist and poet Gertrude Stein. A pioneering work in modernist poetry, its theme revolves around the deconstruction of language and the exploration of the fundamental essence of words. El-Sayegh’s show highlights the reclamation of words, actions, events, or things.

Mandy El-Sayegh, Burning Square: freedom of goods, 2023.
Oil and acrylic on canvas with collaged and silkscreened elements, joss paper, and gold leaf.
256 x 138 cm l 100.79 x 54.33 in

About the artist

Mandy El-Sayegh (b. 1985, Selangor, Malaysia) is a British-Malaysian artist of Palestinian origin who resides in London (UK). She obtained a BA in Fine Art from the University of Westminster (London) in 2007. In 2009, she graduated from the Royal College of Art (London) with an MA in Painting.

At the centre of the artist’s practice, which deploys paintings, sculpture, installation, diagrams, performance, sound, and video, lies an exploration of material and language as well as the formation and break-down of systems of order. El-Sayegh creates collages using text, textiles, found imagery (advertisements, aerial maps, anatomy books, etc.), and newspapers (she often uses the Financial Times). She layers these materials with latex, rubber, and clay. Her collages also incorporate simple repetitive patterns (a hand-painted grid or geometric moulds).

Mandy El-Sayegh, Burning Square: The Times, 2023 (detail).
Oil and acrylic on canvas with collaged and silkscreened elements, joss paper, and gold leaf.
120 x 130 x 4.5 cm l 47.24 x 51.18 x 1.77 in

Collaging disparate fragments of information, El-Sayegh interrogates how and what meaning might emerge from the relationship between them. She draws attention to the systems that determine how information is categorised, contained, and understood. Motifs are often repeated across many of her artworks, showing how the signification of information might change when placed in new contexts.

El-Sayegh’s work has been the subject of several monographic exhibitions, such as In Session (Tichy Ocean Foundation, Zürich, Switzerland, 2023); Still, evident (notes on dreams) (Lehmann Maupin, Palm Beach, FL, USA, 2022); Figure One (Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris Marais, France, 2021); and others. The artist has also taken part in multiple group exhibitions including Women Defining Women in Contemporary Art of the Middle East and Beyond (LACMA, Los Angeles, CA, USA, 2023); Being In the World: The Tenth Anniversary of the Long Museum (Long Museum, Shanghai, China, 2022); When I Count, There Are Only You… (Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah, UAE, 2021); and others.

Mandy El-Sayegh, work in progress (detail). Courtesy of the artist and Lawrie Shabibi.

Among El-Sayegh’s achievements is to have been shortlisted for the Prix Jean François Prat (2023) and the Max Mara Art Prize for Women (2017). Her works have been added to such esteemed collections as Start Museum (Shanghai), LACMA, Sharjah Art Foundation, and Tate (UK), to name a few.

About the curator

Sara Raza, a curator and writer based in New York City (USA), earned her BA (Hons) in English Literature and History of Art from Goldsmiths College, University of London (UK) and received an MA in 20th-Century Art History and Theory from the same educational establishment. She pursued studies towards her PhD at the Royal College of Art (London).

Raza, who specialises in global art and visual cultures from a postcolonial and post-Soviet perspective, has curated for international museums, biennials, and festivals: the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York, USA); Mathaf: Modern Arab Art Museum (Doha, Qatar); the 55th Venice Biennale (Italy); and others. Previously, she was the Guggenheim UBS MAP Curator for the MENA region at the Guggenheim Museum (New York) and Curator of Public Programs at Tate Modern (London).

Currently, Raza teaches at the School of Visual Arts Masters Curatorial Practice and is a Red Burns Fellow at New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program. In addition, Raza is the West and Central Asia Desk Editor for ArtAsiaPacific magazine.

The list of awards Raza has received includes the 11th Art Table New Leadership Award for Women in the Arts, the Walter Hopps Curatorial Excellence Award, and the Arts Council of England Emerging Curator’s Award (2004-05). Besides, she was honoured by Deutsche Bank and Apollo as one of 40 under 40 global art specialists (Thinkers’ category).

To learn more about A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose, please visit the exhibition’s official web page.

You might also be interested in visiting Diary by Tammam Azzam.

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