Adel Abdessemed

Adel Abdessemed

Blondeau & Cie

Adel Abdessemed, Lampedusa, 2014. Black stone on paper, 130 x 190 cm. Photo: Marc Domage.
March 25, 2014

Adel Abdessemed

20 March–3 May 2014

Blondeau & Cie
5, rue de la Muse
CH-1205 Geneva 

T +41 22 544 95 95
F +41 22 544 95 99

Ten years after the Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain de Genève (Mamco), Blondeau & Cie presents an exhibition of the work of Adel Abdessemed in its exhibition space 5 rue de la Muse, at the heart of the Quartier des Bains, Geneva. The artist is showing two new series of works on paper—’Park,’ 2014, and ‘Lampedusa,’ 2014—alongside an experimental sculpture: Merci, la vie en miettes (Thank you, Life Shattered), 2014. The sculpture enters a dialogue with the monumental Habibi, exhibited in 2004 at Mamco and now in the museum’s collection.

‘Create, cry out’—two verbs and two actions that become wholly synonymous in Adel Abdessemed’s work. His art ‘does not illustrate’ but confronts the facts that strike him with simple, direct and powerful images. Whether in drawing, video, sculpture, or ‘actions,’ his work resembles a constantly renewed performance: he contests dogmas, questions archetypes, shakes up history, undercuts the familiar, scrutinises zones of shadow, reveals the immaterial, and images the ineffable in order to express his astute, critical vision of our world. Yet in the very same gesture, his work can draw inspiration from what he calls ‘the inevitable intimate,’ becoming freighted with the intensity of his emotions. From this hair-trigger sensitivity arises a body of work that pushes the envelope in every way—physical, mental, cultural and historical—in order to create a universal space of conversation and contemplation.

Merci, la vie en miettes represents an embracing couple. It is the final act of a project begun by the creation of Habibi (beloved [masculine]) and the unfinished sketch of Habibti (beloved [feminine]): ‘portraits’ of the artist and his wife. These skeletons bring together previously separate images, those of man and woman—the couple is a recurrent theme in the work of this artist. The liquid substance evokes not only the essential nature of life in flux, fragile and absolute, but communication and communion between beings.

Lampedusa, a title evocative of present-day tragedy, brings together a series of drawings representing the boats overcrowded with clandestine immigrants that wash up on the shores of Europe. The motif of the sea pervades the work of Abdessemed and is associated with the theme of exile. This ensemble gives a face and a new life to those men and women who, in the hope of a better future, sacrifice everything that is dear to them—family, friends, land and culture—only to be ground down and humiliated by a continent that rejects them. The aspiration of these drawings is to create a space in which the collective despair of these beings stripped of nation, documentation and shelter can find expression.

The images in the Park series are portraits of elderly men, sitting nonchalantly reading their newspapers. Their stillness contrasts with the drawings of Lampedusa. These familiar images spotlight the inertia that accompanies suffering worldwide.

In all these works, the hidden facets of our era are finally brought to light; in Adel Abdemessed’s exhibition, art eradicates the distinction between the public and the private. It is the gesture by which the most intimate cry becomes a locus of creation.

Born in Constantine in Algeria in 1971, Adel Abdemessed lives and works in Paris and New York.  

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March 25, 2014

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