I have spent the last two months visiting a Palestinian gallery in the centre of London. A stone’s throw away from St Pancras International, the P21 gallery is an exciting addition to the London art scene. It’s place where people from all works of life can meet and share experiences. With art at its centre, this space has the potential to build bridges across communities, something I have witnessed and am excited to see continue.
In the Spotlight
Artist: Anissa Berkane
Exhibition Dhikr Pictural
“Dhikr Pictural inspires to reconnect truthfully with the Self and look beyond the unknown, to eventually reach out to what is Divine.” – Toufik Douib, Curator
The exhibition Dhikr Pictural by Algerian artist Anissa Berkane is the result of a twenty-year artistic journey hinged on intellectual inquiry and spiritual process. The nineteen paintings represent a loving and compassionate remedy to the hostility and injustice in the world.
Berkane graduated from the Academic school of Fine Arts in Algeria and after being initially interested in Orientalist art, soon shifted her focus to nonfigurative, abstract painting. Her work is powerfully dynamic in its composition. The unconventional nature and use of painterly application makes her work exciting and her patterning nuanced and unexpected. Berkane’s style is unique as is her modus operandi; dhikr is at the foundation of her practice and Berkane recites dhikr or listens to Quranic recitation whilst creating her work. The mystique of mathematical symbolism is subtly conveyed in each piece. Each painting is an invitation to journey, from image to image, through a universe that offers the hope of change and progression. It aims to inspire a more positive reading of our holy book and a more truthful reflection of ourselves and our place in a highly consumerist, high speed and superficial world that paints negative stories of what we hold sacred. To this end, Dhikr Pictorial is a breath of fresh air.
“Anissa Berkane’s particular style conveys holy inspirations and calls for a mass of emotions, regardless of the myriad of interpretations lying beneath each canvas. In reality, the whole series of Dhikr Pictural is a sublime ode to life that addresses a personal dialogue to each of us. The artist took 20 years to bring this project to life, so take your time in enjoying it.” -Toufik Douib, Curator
Anissa has exhibited in several national and international (Berlin, St Tropez – 2007) events. Dhikr Pictural was shown in Algiers (2015) and Teheran (2016).
“This exhibition is an invitation made open to everyone regardless of their race or faith. Over all this time spent on researching in the sciences and the mathematical codes of the Holy Book, the Qur’an, I today share this collection wishing that it will raise discussions and suggest answers for many people around the world and those who only see terror in this Religion, when its true core is uplifting and blessing.” – Anissa Berkane
One to watch
Toufik Douib is an independent curator and event director. Born and bred in Algeria, his interests lie in curating projects which promote a global and intercultural understanding of Algerian and Maghreb identity. Using art and culture as a platform Douib uses his artistic scope to develop greater understanding and initiate dialogue.
Toufik has been working on various projects that aim to illustrate Algerian culture and its rich and complex history.
These include a collective visual art project entitled ‘Algerianism’, a digital art collection ‘Home-Lend’ and more recently the critically acclaimed ‘Pop Art from North Africa’.
Douib is committed to developing dialogue between cultures and uses his events to bring together artists, facilitators and speakers of all nationalities to contribute and engage with wider audiences.
Contemporary Islamic arts: Ubiquité by Maison Meftah
“Ubiquité is a dialogue between an artist designer and a master-craftsman. The fine openwork generates a metal lace sublimated by light, projecting shadows that expand the borders of the object. The cubic shape, with a dematerialised structure, seems to move with the angle of contemplation, until it momentarily vanishes, making us forget the hours of work necessary for its genesis. “- Maison Meftah (text from website)
Maison Meftah is a Moroccan artisanal craft venture founded in 2010 by the Meftah brothers, Ilyas and Adil. The two brothers, guided by a mutual aspiration to celebrate traditional craftsmanship, celebrate their cultural heritage by exploring new and innovative ways to create modern interpretations of Islamic art.
Through exquisite detailing and subtle numerical content, the brothers have created an intricate handcrafted cube. Made of polished brass, no more than 30cm square and three months in the making, the resulting work fuses traditional Islamic art with postmodern symbolism.
“For Ilyas, it was the urge to experiment and push the envelope of this distinguished legacy by putting it to the test of ultra-modernity and functionality.” “For Adil, it was the role to play in safeguarding traditional techniques, in preserving the secret and the integrity of methods that are in themselves a revival of the heritage of humanity.”- Maison Meftah (text from website)
This beautifully unique Arabesque-inspired work was presented in London by their younger sister, Mounia Meftah. For more information visit Maison Meftah
Curated by the Contemporary Arts ReSearch Unit (CARU) disPLACED showcases the practice-based PhD research of Lebanese artist Alissar McCreary among a group exhibition. The works are all artistic responses to the theme of displacement.
This exhibition runs to February 10 at the P21 Gallery.
The Place to Be
P21 Gallery, 21-27 Chalton Street, London NW1 1JD
The P21 Gallery is Palestinian owned charitable trust established to promote contemporary Middle Eastern and Arab art and culture. The London venue has been designed to maximise the potential of contemporary art as a discourse, through multimedia exhibition spaces and supporting facilities for public functions, workshops, training and education. The space also holds a reference library stocked with audio visual and printed material. There is also a cafe on the ground floor serving a specialist array of coffees.
Open Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 12-6pm Wednesday 12-8pm Saturday 12-6pm