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 his vibrantly coloured collages and black and white letterist paintings, Hassan presents 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. Kaabi-Linke’s works are in the collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim, MoMA, Dallas Museum of Art, Sharjah Art Foundation and has been shown at the Venice Biennale 54, Dallas Contemporary and Gulbenkian Museum amongst others. 


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. Ové, based between London and Trinidad, works between sculpture, film and photography seeking to reignite and reinterpret lost culture using new-world materials, whilst paying tribute to both spiritual and artistic African identity. 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. Ové was the first artist from the African disapora to be included in the collection of the Africa department at the British Museum. His monumental sculptural installation Black and Blue: The Invisible Men and the Masque of Blackness, first shown in the central courtyard of Somerset House during the 2016 edition of 1-54, is currently on view at the Civic Center Plaza in San Francisco.