Sharjah: His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, today inaugurated an art exhibition titled The Other Side of Silence by Hrair Sarkissian at Sharjah Art Foundation. Dr Sheikh Sultan also visited the exhibition titled Luminous Letters, by Emirati artist and calligrapher Mohammed Mandi at the Sharjah Calligraphy Museum here today.
The exhibition, organised by the Sharjah Art Foundation in cooperation with Bonniers Konsthall in Stockholm, and the Bonnefanten Museum in Maastricht, the Netherlands, is the first investigative exhibition by Hrair Sarkissian and will run until January 30, 2022.
Dr Sheikh Sultan toured the exhibition, where he listened to an explanation from Hrair Sarkissian about his work over the past 15 years, which takes the visitor on a photographic journey to the squares of Aleppo, Latakia and Damascus, and through the skies over Palmyra and the snow-covered landscapes of contemporary Armenia.
The inauguration of the exhibition was attended by Sheikha Hoor bint Sultan Al Qasimi, President of Sharjah Art Foundation, Sheikha Nawar bint Ahmed Al Qasimi, Director of Sharjah Art Foundation, Dr Abdulrahman bin Mohammad bin Nasser Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention, Mohamed Obaid Al Zaabi, Chairman of the Department of Protocol and Hospitality, and a number of officials and artists.
At the Luminous Letters exhibition, Dr Sheikh Sultan toured the exhibition halls, listening to an explanation from the artist, Mohammed Mandi, about the exhibited works, highlighting their artistic significance that reflected his vision and inspiration from national sayings and occasions, among other influences.
The exhibition conveys Mandi’s journey of passion for calligraphy and art through his teaching of calligraphy and the implementation of a number of works that testify to his achievements, including designing texts for the outer cover of the Emirati passport, and writings from the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
Possibilities of the photographic medium
The exhibition examines the histories of demise, the architecture of violence, and the possibilities of the photographic medium. It is based on two main commissions, a photographic installation titled Last Seen (2018-2021), commissioned by the Sharjah Art Foundation, and Sweet and Sour (2021-2022) commissioned by Bonnefantin.
Sarkissian had stepped into the world of photography through his father’s photography studio Dream Color in Damascus. He then travelled to the Netherlands to study visual arts, where he continued analogue photography, taking it as a main medium, and testing his capabilities through his tireless pursuit of elucidating the invisible narratives in conflicts.
The photographs that Sarkissian produced using a large-frame camera developed, and continued to produce throughout his life, embodying his preoccupation with the role of ‘chance’ in capturing hidden narratives — as if he was an excavator and a storyteller at the same time.
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Drawing on individual and collective memory
In addition to his work on the use of photographic methods to evoke the scenes revealing historical trauma, his works draw on individual and collective memory, delving into stories that official records and sources cannot tell. Such methods allow the spectator, through pre-designed scenes, to think about the formal aspects of the image and assess the possibilities of what lies beneath its surface.
The exhibition by Mandi will witness, throughout its duration, accompanying programmes and events, including a live virtual meeting with artist Mohammed Mandi. In addition to various workshops on calligraphy and design.
It is noteworthy that Mandi was born in 1953, and began his artistic career in 1975.
The Sharjah Calligraphy Museum organises exhibitions of calligraphers and artists from all over the world every year. This year’s exhibition is a continuation of the exhibitions it presents, along with a package of accompanying events.
-- With inputs from WAM