DUBAI: Based in the seaport town of Khor Fakkan, in the exclave of the emirate of Sharjah, Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim is one of the UAE’s earliest experimental artists. His handcrafted, colorful and whimsical installations and sculptural works respond to his natural surroundings, particularly to the desert and sea landscapes of his homeland.
“My connection with the natural landscapes of the UAE has inspired my work since I was a teenager,” said the artist to Arab News. “In exhibiting at the Venice Biennale, I feel I will be sharing an aspect of my home and culture with many other nations and starting a dialogue with other exhibitions presenting aspects of their own homes and cultures. For an artist, this is an exciting and creatively enriching opportunity to engage with some of the world’s most intriguing artists and concepts.”
Ibrahim was an influential member of the UAE’s avant-garde art community that formed during the early 1980s. His work has been acquired by major public and private institutions throughout the world, including the British Museum, Centre Pompidou, the Sharjah Art Foundation, Art Jameel and the Barjeel Art Foundation. His work was included in the Kochi-Muziris Biennial 2016 and most recently, at Desert X AlUla. Currently on view is Ibrahim’s solo exhibition Memory Drum, at the Lawrie Shabibi art gallery in Alserkal Avenue, Dubai.
Ibrahim’s work will be featured in a solo exhibition at the National Pavilion UAE for the 2022 edition of La Biennale di Venezia, curated by Maya Allison of the New York University Abu Dhabi Art Gallery.
“Mohamed’s work is singular and immediately recognizable, yet constantly developing,” said Allison to Arab News. “He draws directly on his environment and reflects the changing world around him, with a deep trust in his own particular process. Venice will mark our fifth collaboration, yet his work continues to surprise me, even as it retains a distinct visual style, demonstrating a profoundly developed artistic voice.”
The mission of the National Pavilion UAE has long been to curate and provide a platform for the untold stories of the UAE.
“With that in mind, we have made a conscious decision to move toward a more artist-led approach to exhibition development, using our global platform to highlight the UAE’s incredible community of well-established artists whose work deserves international recognition,” said Layla Binbrek, coordinating director of the National Pavilion UAE.
“Following the success of our 2019 solo exhibition by Nujoom Alghanem, Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim’s remarkable form-led practice and organic, handcrafted works — which are physically and conceptually deeply rooted in the unique natural landscape of his home in Khor Fakkan — made him a very fitting choice for our next pavilion,” she added.
Ibrahim’s prolific body of work captures the UAE’s multifaceted community and natural environment through an organic and endearing approach to abstraction. His figures retain an emotional and life-like sensibility that all can relate to.
“Mohamed’s practice, extending back to the 1980s, is extraordinarily rich and varied,” explained William Lawrie, co-founder of Lawrie Shabibi. “He’s one of those rare artists who creates truly automatically and from his subconscious.”