Saudi Arabian artist Faisal Samra’s first solo exhibition in the UK opens at Ayyam Gallery, London on 13 February. C.D.R – Construction, Destruction & Reconstruction is a response to Samra’s interest in the process of creation. He began by considering the role of construction in everyday life, even during sleeping, and then went on to explore destruction and reconstruction in relation to the Middle East, the concept of the ego, and the human body.
The artist’s works reference the invasion of Iraq in 2003, using it is a marker for the continuing destruction in the Middle East. He reflects upon the unfair vision of the Arab world created by the West and how this vision relies upon reconstruction. Samra also ponders on the West’s efforts at unseating previous power structures in the Middle East, de-installing them in order to set up a “New Middle East.”
A powerful four-part multimedia work begins with a clay idol that has been deliberately fragmented. The piece has been in progress since the Tunisian uprising of 2010 and the artist borrows from Freudian psychoanalysis of the ego to explore the notion of wholeness in one unit, versus the effects of fragmentation in the very same unit. Highlighting larger philosophical and political concepts, he brings together the fragmentary, the solid and the digital, in order to demonstrate how wholeness and destruction are inextricably linked.
In a more personal work, Samra addresses destruction and reconstruction during his wife’s chemotherapy after a diagnosis of breast cancer. The polyptych documents the three stages of “Zeina” – before, during and after the treatment. Choosing the body as a subject because of its perpetual creation, destruction and regrowth, the artist draws comparisons between the vulnerability of the body and also his homeland.
Faisal Samra: C.D.R – Construction, Destruction & Reconstruction, 13 February 29 March, 143 New Bond Street, 1st Floor, W1S 2TP, London.
1. Faisal Samra, Part of C.D.R. (Construction, Destruction & Reconstruction)– Work # 05 (Zeina-cancer surviver), 2013, Digital photography – lambda print Diasec, Courtesy the artist and Ayyam G.