Adel Abdessemed

Landscape, 2016

Blackstone on Paper

60 x 80 cm

Over € 10,000


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Artwork
Description

Adel Abdessemed is a contemporary artist born in Algeria in 1971, in the middle of a period of radical change and conflict for the country. As a direct witness of the war and as a survivor, his installations overtly address the violence of those years  – attempting to give attention to the brutality in the world by unsettling the audience.

In comparison to his œvre, Landscape features an eerie tranquillity in its lack of detail; Abdessemed’s loose use of black stone suggests movement in the drawing – his finger-marks mimicking an impetuous marine wind, bending the strands of grass. In its whirlwind-like chaos, the landscape seems to be depicted both from afar and up-close: the observer is either hidden in the grass or is in plain sight while looking over the landscape, detached from the scene they’re witnessing.

Abdessemed delineates the contours of the view with indefinite black marks, vaguely looking like torn-apart trunks of trees – rimming the edge of the land, separating it from an unknown space. The empty view conveys a dreading expectation for something to disturb the overall, perhaps momentary, tranquillity.

At the same time, the landscape might be interpreted as a coastal scene: the black marks also remind of the, sadly familiar, shape of people walking in a line, emigrating, perhaps escaping from danger, headed towards an uncertain future located behind a blurred, blind spot of the coastline.

About
the artist

Adel Abdessemed is a contemporary artist who was born in 1971 in Constantine, Algeria. Aware of his artistic call since a young age, he attended the École Régionale des Beaux-Arts in Batna but he was forced to abruptly interrupt his studies due to the assassination of the dean and his son inside the school, a crime connected to the Algerian Civil War in 1994. He later moved to France, where he attended the École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Lyon and then worked in the Cité Internationale Des Arts in Paris.

The violence of the years in Algeria shaped Abdessemed’s approach to art: he focuses on the personal and collective trauma of living through the conflict, by meditating on the cruelty he witnessed in Algeria. His production consistently tackles extremist violence, human sacrifice, universal brutality, and the displacing alienation triggered by war. He works with these themes acknowledging their truest meaning and actively intervenes on them by creating visual tension in his artworks, in the hope of triggering a sense of resistance against violence through art.

His installations – made with a variety of media, such as animation, performance, sculpture, and drawing – are a clear effort in not allowing violence to be overlooked by the masses; Abdessemed’s 2008 show at San Francisco Art was closed within two weeks after the opening, as it stirred outrage in the audience and drew death threats in response to videos – recorded at a Mexican farm – of animals being bludgeoned. Although he’s known as French art’s enfant terrible, Abdessemed doesn’t portray violence with the sole purpose of provoking – rather, his artworks are meant to pull the audience out of their comfort zone, in an attempt to pierce their numbness towards cruelty.

In a society where multiple news outlets consistently report about war and death, and the victims are reduced from people to numbers, Abdessemed fights the alienation towards war with the hope to create a new awareness through unsettlement – in his words: “As artists, we must generate tensions for something very positive and extraordinary to come out […] if we don’t put our finger on a problem, how will it get proper attention?”

Adel Abdessemed exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art PS1 – New York (2001, 2007 – 2008) The Common Guild, Glasgow – Scotland (2008), had a solo show at the Pompidou Center – Paris (2012 – 13), he also majorly exhibited at the Venice Biennale in (2015) and is currently exhibiting at the Musée D’Art Contemporain de Lyon (March – July 2018).
He currently lives and works in London.


“As artists, we must generate tensions for something very positive and extraordinary to come out […] if we don’t put our finger on a problem, how will it get proper attention?” – Adel Abdessemed


Adel Abdessemed
on Artuner

Part of the
exhibition

March 15th, 2018 until
April 24th, 2018
Curated by ARTUNER