In My Family, My People, a series that Abla painted between 2006 and 2012, the artist explores the concept of a family; starting from a few people, expanding to extended family, all the way to the neighbourhood - and then the whole nation.
His nostalgic contemplations regarding his father, who was against him following his talent as an artist, and his mother trying to support her son's dreams, eventually evolve into reflections on the broader sense of "family."
The January 25 Revolution erupted while Abla was still working on the series. The events gave him a new perspective on the family concept; a broadened sense of family that was represented by the nation gathered at Tahrir Square and other public spaces around Egypt.
"I watched people and saw how millions became one family. I wondered how the revolution affects families and how the role of a father must have changed," Abla thinks out loud.
Abla remained active in Tahrir Square while creating art and taking note of the surrounding realities.
His solo show entitled My Family, which was on display in April at the Dubai ARTSPACE, included only some of the works from the collection to be presented in London.
The Dubai exhibition was a "safe angle," as the artist puts it: an incomplete, non-threatening version. Whereas the London exhibition will present Abla's social and political statements that could have been rejected by the Dubai gallery.
Some of his works would not have been accepted in Egyptian galleries because they could be interpreted as disturbing to 'censoring eyes' dominating Egypt's culture.
Mohamed Abla's My Family, My People in ARTSPACE Gallery London is the inaugurational exhibition for the gallery.
ARTSPACE was originally founded in Dubai in 2003 and its new branch in London will open its doors to the public on 10 May.
Wednesday, 9 May, 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Thursday, 10 May - 9 June
7 Milner Street
Chelsea, London, UK