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WHY Nadine Hammam


ArtTalks | Gallery | Egypt 8 el kamel mohamed street. Zamalek. Cairo. Egypt. For all enquiries, please contact: +20227363948 +201005550585

WHY Nadine Hammam

10 DECEMBER 2013 – 15 JANUARY 2014 Cairo – Egypt

The New Voices of Avant-Garde Art in Egypt Today Nadine Hammam’s artistic journey speaks for the persistence of art to manifest itself in times of revolutions and for the new ways in which the current Egyptian artistic avant-garde is coming to the forefront. In the same vein as previous western and non-western vanguard movements, her art is resolutely defiant and inspiring. It engages the viewer in new horizons beyond boundaries and national geographical borders. It defies stereotypes, confronts History, and challenges constructions of the feminine in today’s world. This is a particularly pressing matter today as many women’s organizations address the regression of the status of women. And this is precisely why Nadine Hammam’s work is timely, and demands our attention. Moreover, in the heart of the highly mediatized Egyptian revolutions, Nadine Hammam’s artistic inquiry engages us in new ways of thinking about the intellectual and artistic consequences of revolutions and the experiences of historical and ideological unrest. Her art today undoubtedly demonstrates that artists are actively engaged with their times. As a young emerging Egyptian artist today, Nadine Hammam has been trained in the renowned and extremely competitive Central St. Martin’s MFA program in the UK. She has returned to Egypt where she works and plans to move on to New York. Like many of her contemporaries, such as Mona Hatoum and Ghada Amer, her work confronts both western and non western audiences and positions her as a cross cultural and transnational artist on the global art scene today.

At first glance, Nadine Hammam’s creations, Tank Girl and Heartless are singularized by the color red and bear a highly charged symbolic power heightened by the experimentation with textures and mixed media: silver foil, crystals, papers. Red, as her color of choice for her female figures remains ambivalent because red is never a neutral color. Yet, if the color red catches our eyes at first glance, it is just the starting point of Nadine Hammam’s artistic pursuit. Her female figures are daunting and fiercefully occupy the entirety of her pictorial space. The direct interplay between text and image in Heartless invites us to engage in dialogue in a novel in-between space in which the female body becomes the memorial for memory and trauma. The female figures and the words carried by their bodies are imposing and powerful. They take on the role of banners, that resonate within us. Nadine Hammam, just like many of her contemporary women artists, takes her place in an artistic world where nudity has traditionally been the domain and the prerogative of men. The universal words of unrequited or absent love engender a riveting message of love and desire. In spite of the rich layering and the multiple media used to produce texture, her female figures are far from being decorative models. They defy definitions. They stage the deconstruction of symbolic values, breaking taboos and giving center stage to love, desire or the lack thereof. Her bodies cry out the needs of women on a global scale, confront us and call for our direct participation.

With her new work entitled WHY, Nadine Hammam pursues her art with the new media and the dynamic process of mirroring. It is aesthetically more ornate, subtle and poetic. The words assembled from broken mirrors pieces, are both reflecting and fragmenting the self. The viewer is directly engaged in the work as his or her own image reflects back from the written words. Just like any other previous avant-garde artistic strategy the artistic experience is participatory. Reflecting the gaze of the viewer directly into the work of art gives a new unprecedented turn to vanguard and performance art. Words are no longer simply painted or performed. With Nadine Hammam, the mirroring effects of words and the questioning of language through reflected subjectivities puts the viewer in an explicit unequivocal and unstable position. The viewer can no longer identify with the traditionally assigned meaning of language. From now on, the viewer has to take action and responsibility in the words in which he/she is reflected. This is precisely where the political strategy of Nadine Hammam’s art is at work. Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray’s aesthetics of chance are redefined and find their echoes in the manner in which the mirrors are broken and pieced back together to compose the verbal signs. It is chance that guides the artistic process as the artist selects some of the broken pieces that are glued on the canvas to deliver her message. Yet, this is mere illusion since the words emerging from the broken and missing pieces can never be fully recomposed.

On the contrary, the seven pieces that compose the series WHY reveal a conceptual strategy at work that hands us only the mere illusion that meaning and past histories can be fully reconfigured as we walk close to and away from the compositions. The canvasses, with their smooth finish, are brushed to the point of erasing any trace or marks. With their smooth surface they point to the gestural disappearance of the artist who leaves us alone in front of the broken mirrors and recomposed pieces. It is in this decentering experience of loss between reality and fiction that humor prevails and that one may experience the beauty of designs reminiscent of arabesque lace patterns. This message of love invokes History on a global scale, opens new cartographies to re-think the ideologies of our fast-globalizing world. It speaks for the central role that art and the internationalization of art can play today.

Martine Natat Antle Mc Caughey Chair of French Studies The University of Sydney Australia

This is the first series of works that contain no figures. But yet there is a figure - the reflection of the person standing before the mirror.

I don’t find anything I make shocking. I am very comfortable with the human figure and I have used it in my work to deconstruct social taboos and complex social structures. Changing this mindset will definitely be a challenge, and sadly, I’m not sure it will change in my lifetime.

Love Acrylic on Canvas and Mixed Media Dimensions: 1.50m x 1.80m Signed and dated on reverse USD 16,000 SOLD

I have been fascinated with mirrors for some time. I find them illusive and seductive as well as disturbing.

Lust Acrylic on Canvas and Mixed Media Dimensions: 1.75m x 50cm Signed and dated on reverse USD 8,000

I wanted to embrace and make fun of the ultimate clichĂŠ of love, but to show that at the same time we all want it.

Desire Acrylic on Canvas and Mixed Media Dimensions: 1.75m x 50cm Signed and dated on reverse USD 8,000

Reflection says so many things, and in so many ways. It’s opened ended. Your perception standing before the work is your reality.

Forever Acrylic on Canvas and Mixed Media Dimensions: 1.60m x 1.80m Signed and dated on reverse USD 18,000

Perhaps there’s some latent thought of my grandmother somewhere. She used to hold up this crystal glass and say, ‘the woman is like the crystal glass, once broken she can never be fixed.’

Passion Acrylic on Canvas and Mixed Media Dimensions: 1.20m x 1.4om Signed and dated on reverse USD 12,000

I chose words that reflect and situate a relationship – I wanted to deconstruct those emotions.

Kiss Acrylic on Canvas and Mixed Media Dimensions: 80cm x 90cm Signed and dated on reverse USD 6,000 SOLD

Once broken, those emotions can never be fixed, I mean, it never returns with the same person. Yes, yes, you will love again, I hope. Eventually...

Yes Acrylic on Canvas and Mixed Media Dimensions: 1m x 1.20m Signed and dated on reverse USD 8,000 SOLD

Founded in 2010, ARTTALKS | EGYPT has established itself as a highly selective search engine for Egypt’s next generation of contemporary artists and an authority on high quality secondary market works by twentieth century Egyptian masters. ARTTALKS manages the estate of the late painter and sculptor Dr Sobhy Guirguis, a seminal Egyptian sculptor and painter artist. Part of ARTTALKS income is channeled into an Art Fund, to support high potential emerging artists and to finance an extensive educational program aimed at growing the number of art collectors and art patrons in Egypt. We run a yearly curriculum on the history of Egyptian modern and contemporary art and invite scholars from abroad to give talks to the public. Founded by arts patron Fatenn Mostafa, former CEO of Gianaclis Vineyards for Beverages and former advisor to Bozar, Center of Fine Arts in Brussels, Belgium, the gallery is committed to the defense of freedom of art in Egypt and to strengthen Egypt's position on the regional art map.

Nadine Hammam was born in 1973 in Cairo, Egypt and lives and works in Cairo. She received a BA English and Comparative Literature from the American University in Cairo and an MA in Fine Art from Central St. Martins, London. A multi-disciplinary and conceptual artist, she works with painting, writing, sound installations, video. She deconstructs gender dynamics and social taboos by investigating the relationship between the public versus the private, the external versus the internal, and the intimate which are key to Middle Eastern society. A transnational artist, her painting explores text and image and constructs flawless multi-layered canvases that eliminate all visible brush strokes pointing to the gestural disappearance of the artist. Her work is now positioned on the international artistic scene. She has exhibited her work in Cairo (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013), London (2006), Dubai (2007, 2011), Washington DC (2005) and Paris (2005). For her fourth solo show at ArtTalks | Gallery | Egypt from December 10, 2013 through to January 15, 2014, she is exploring a new media, mirrors, to pursue her experimentations with text and image.      

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Nadine Hammam | WHY | Portfolio  

Nadine Hammam was born in 1973 in Cairo, Egypt and lives and works in Cairo. She received a BA English and Comparative Literature from the A...