Work by Ali Abdel Mohsen, part of his series titled Slow War (2016). Mixed media on Cardboard 100 x 85 cm (Photo: courtesy of the Mashrabia Gallery)
The 6th round of the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair which will take place between 4 and 7 October at Somerset House in London, will bring together 43 leading galleries from countries across Africa, Europe, the Middle East and North America, presenting over 130 artists, accompanied by a compelling series of special projects and forums, including a talks programme curated by Ekow Eshun.
Cairo's Mashrabia Gallery of Contemporary Art, the only gallery from Egypt to take part in the fair, is showcasing works by Adel Al-Siwi, Souad Abdel-Rasoul and Ali Abdel-Mohsen.
Of the three perhaps Abdel-Mohsen is the least celebrated, even though he is a true visionary who creates apocalyptic imagery all his own.
A self-taught artist and journalist, he uses line drawings and acrylic colours mixed with dirt and cigarette ashes on the surfaces of disused cardboard boxes to depict the decline of contemporary society. Strongly influenced by his surroundings, his work shows an urban dystopia of nihilism and paranoia.
Violence, chaos and corruption have taken over. The individual plays no role: Abdel-Mohsen’s subjects are faceless victims, though they often also show signs of resilience. Used materials reflect exhaustion and abandonment, but as such it also seems to portrays a slow ware.
Abdel-Mohsen, who has exhibited all over the world and whose work has appeared in a number of publications, was featured by Mashrabia in the Beirut Art Fair, 2016.
* A version of this article appears in print in the 28 September 2018 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly under the headline: Out of Africa
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