1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, London

ROOM S9, FIRST FLOOR, SOMERSET HOUSE, 4 - 7 OCTOBER 2018, 3 - 7 October 2018 

Lawrie Shabibi­­­ returns to the London edition of 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair featuring a presentation of three artists: Nadia Kaabi-Linke (b. 1978, Tunis), Fathi Hassan (b. 1957, Cairo) and Zak Ové (b. 1966, London).


For the first time the gallery will show works of Fathi Hassan, a Nubian Egyptian artist now living and working in Edinburgh (Scotland), whose works are in the collections of The Victoria and Albert Museum, The British Museum and The Smithsonian National Museum of African Art. Fathi Hassan’s experiments with the written and spoken word explore the importance of oral traditions and ancient languages threatened by colonialism. At 1-54 Hassan presents a series of collaged works that engage with the symbols, textures and calligraphy of invented, Kufic-inspired scripts, exploring the space between graphic symbolism and literal meaning. Alongside a series of photographs which overlay words from Arabic and Nubian languages to celebrate the strong oral tradition in Nubian culture.


Based in Berlin,Tunisian-Ukrainian Nadia Kaabi-Linke presents The bank is safe (in memory of Wilhelm Voigt, 2018 a sculptural intervention on a found park bench covering it with spikes typically used on surfaces to prevent birds from resting. It confronts the viewer with its imposition and physicality, transforming a benign place of safety and rest into a hostile object, perplexing in its functionality and contradictory in its purpose. Its opposing features capture the schizophrenia of Western values where “freedom” is the prevailing narrative, whilst underscored by an obsession with security, control and surveillance of movement. 


Following from his first exhibition in Dubai in March earlier this year, Lawrie Shabibi presents works from Zak Ové’s series of Doily Paintings and from his Stargazer sculptures. His Doily Paintings incorporate European lace doilies as well as custom doilies that have been made to order by Syrian refugees in Turkey.  These works, with their vibrant circular layers and patterns, are visual analogues for sounds and music, evoking the spirit and energy of the Trinidadian carnival. Ové’s Stargazers, masks composed from brightly painted vintage car parts, investigate how an artist can continue the tradition of mask-making making African diasporic sculpture, using materials available, rather than the traditional ebony wood, thus breaking free from negative colonial connotations.