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Palestinian artist explores collective dynamics in public places

By Ana V. Ibáñez Prieto - Mar 13,2018 - Last updated at Mar 13,2018

Artworks by Palestinian artist Jawad Al Malhi are showcased at the Nabad Art Gallery until April 11 (Photo by Ana V. Ibáñez Prieto)

AMMAN — A selection of works by Palestinian artist Jawad Al Malhi is being showcased at the Nabad Art Gallery, featuring the artist’s observation of the dynamics of crowds in public spaces.

Running through April 11, the exhibition comprises Al Malhi’s work over the past 20 years, with a focus on his exploration of communities and their relationship to their environments and to everyday practices through painting, video, installation, sculpture and photography. 

The artist’s interest is set in “the instant after solidarity dissipates and collectivity melts into thin air”, with paintings depicting people wandering in all directions, representing moments of uncertainty and trepidation. 

“No longer engulfed by idealism, it is the detail of the crowd, the paradoxes and idiosyncrasy of human activity that captures my attention — I am drawn to the serendipity of the scene,” Al Malhi said, expressing that “public spaces are filled with the relationships of temporary clusters of people watching and waiting, who contour the urban terrain”. 

Empty backgrounds populate artworks in which the specificity of the place is erased, as Al Malhi’s latest series speaks of the “pervading human condition in our contemporary times”. 

Human figures walk into the space of the canvas like ghosts, in works that capture the transformations of our social fabric, representing the recurrent transient moments of everyday life through observation and reflection on common everyday events on the street and public places. 

Shortlisted for the Frieze Foundation Cartier Award and nominated for the Prix Pictet, Al Malhi’s  works are held in several collections across Europe and the Arab world, including the British Museum, the Imperial War Museum (UK), the Pompidou Centre (France), the Kamal Lazzar Foundation (Tunisia), and the Barjeel Collection (UAE).

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