Embryonic Coat is the third solo exhibition by Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim (b. 1962, UAE) to be shown at the gallery. Here Ibrahim explores the conception or manifestation of the known, experienced, or imagined, as contained within rudimentary forms. The title references the protective sheath around a seed or the membrane around an embryo.
The exhibition runs concurrently with Ibrahim’s major new installation for The National Pavilion UAE at the 59th Venice Biennale - Between Sunrise and Sunset - a room-filling sculpture made from 128 abstract and organic elements in his signature medium of papier-maché.
Such was the scale of the Venice commission that Ibrahim spent ever more time in and around his home studio and its adjoining garden, with its old trees, flower beds and potted plants. As always, what inspired him were his surroundings, and so naturally, his new series of paintings (entitled My Garden’s Details) fixates on these plants. They become his central motif, endlessly repeated, reconfigured and recoloured, much as the abstract notations in his Symbols paintings and murals, or the vertical marks in his Lines works. Although often regimented, as with all of Ibrahim’s works these plants are somehow also treated individually and with tenderness.
Showing alongside are recent papier-maché sculptures. His three-dimensional works materialize spontaneously through weeks of experimentation with various materials, using coloured or black and white paper, though often mixing in leaves, grass, tea, coffee, or tobacco to produce nuanced natural and neutral tones. Some are anthropomorphic and dynamic - others emerge as organic plant-like forms, and some are toy-like. Whereas a few clearly relate to those in the Venice installation, in contrast to it, here we are presented with an eclectic range of objects - trees, combs, robots, various humanoid figures, flowers etc. The interchangeability of titles underlines the flexibility and mutability of Ibrahim’s visual language.
Rooted in his former semi-figural investigations, the new body of work presented in Embryonic Coat is quintessential of Ibrahim’s practice - the intuitive repetition of mark-making and forms in his paintings, the automatic almost subconscious object-making of his sculptures are both analogues to organic growth.