Egyptian artist Ahmed Badry’s sculptures and drawings investigate our relationships with familiar objects in order to question their functionality and place in the everyday.
Portmanteau, a new solo exhibition at Letitia Gallery in Beirut, brings together a selection of new and previously seen mixed media works, including six sculptures ranging in size from 50cm to 3.5m, two of which incorporate 3D printed objects and video projection.
The title alludes to the composite objects created by Badry that exist solely as symbols of the potential of their function — for example, a battery drill connected to a can opener, viewed as a whole, does not exist within the current global vernacular. Badry aims to understand and define these objects through naming and assigning function and, in doing so, create something new, translating the object from a non-verbal hinterland between existence and assigning it relevance to society.
The exhibition is an extension of Badry’s previous work, which has sought to transform our perception of everyday objects through the manipulation of scale and context, and to re-examine the role of the omnipresent object within society. The work offers insight into the artist’s in-depth research into non-codified objects through a reinterpretation of them in relation to language. By upscaling a bus ticket, a tool or a piece of packaging to epic proportion, Badry magnifies the object’s intent and makes the banal unavoidable.
Within Portmanteau, Badry has sought to collaborate with artists, writers and linguists in order to explore multiple ways of deconstructing language through the process of naming.
Badry graduated in 2003 from the Helwan University, Faculty of Art Education, Cairo. He lives and works in Cairo.
In recent years, Badry has participated in several art Residencies including six months at the Cite des Arts in Paris; three months at the Swiss Art Residency of Canton St. Gallen in Rome and two months at the Delfina Foundation in London.
Based in the vibrant Hamra neighbourhood, Letitia Gallery is a contemporary art gallery focused on encouraging global engagement with contemporary art in Lebanon through the contextualisation of both local and international artists and their work within the global art environment.
Under the direction of Annie Vartivarian, the gallery works on a project-focused model that looks to nurture the growth of regional artists from the Mena region as well as showcasing international artists in Lebanon within a programme of four to five exhibitions a year.
Portmanteau: Ahmed Badry will run at the Letitia Gallery in Beirut through June 16.