Focus

Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme, Ahmed Morsi

Ahmed Morsi, Untitled (From “The Loving Horse” series), 1996. Courtesy: the artist and Gypsum Gallery, Cairo

Ahmed Morsi, Untitled (From “The Loving Horse” series), 1996. Courtesy: the artist and Gypsum Gallery, Cairo

Coming from completely disparate space-times, the artists share an urge to rebuild an image of what is no longer accessible. A deliberate imaginary of yearning that is radical and critical of its own alienation. Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme draw from mythology and archeological references to undo a force of violence and begin to retrieve and reconstitute living matter from a wreck. Ahmed Morsi’s work is witness to many such wrecks, conflating numerous periods and sociopolitical conditions, it freezes an androgynous subject in a coastal city he sees as long gone. The works together present a form of chronology that is linear, parallel and fumbled all at once.

The artist duo presents their multi-staged, research-based work And Yet My Mask is Powerful. Archival photos, stills of video/media files, and performance documentation, 3-D prints of Neolithic artifacts and sound tracks are shuffled and overlapped in this installation until unscripted connections start to emerge.

For the artists, the digital archive is a great leveler, and much of the sourced material is mediated through a pervasive ‘virtuality’ – language and images are presented as screenshots, in TextEdit boxes, or within web-browsers, framed or loosely attached to the walls of the booth. Morsi presents large-scale acrylic on canvas painting produced in New York after the eighties, at least a decade after he left his native Alexandria. The booth is painted a bruised midnight blue. For the three artists, the suggestive poeticism of the color, and its connection to landscape is paramount.

Ahmed Morsi (b. 1930, Alexandria) is an artist, art critic and poet with a career that spans seven decades of creative output. In the 1950s, he simultaneously studied literature at Alexandria University and painting at the studio of Italian master Silvio Becchi. In 1974, Morsi moved to New York City, where he continues to paint, write and critique from his Manhattan home.His work is in public collections including the Egyptian Museum of Modern Art, the Alexandria Museum of Fine Arts, Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Sharjah Art Foundation, Barjeel Art Foundation and in various notable private collections in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, France, England and the United States.