Solo exhibition at Bund museum conveys 'An Imperial Message'

Wang Jie
Artist Adel Abdessemed's exhibition features around 40 artworks varying from drawing, video, sculpture, poetry, sound to installation.
Wang Jie
Solo exhibition at Bund museum conveys 'An Imperial Message'

"Air" series (2021)

Artist Adel Abdessemed probes the wounds of our present.

His exhibition, titled "An Imperial Message," features around 40 artworks, among which more than 10 are newly created. They vary from drawing, video, sculpture, poetry, sound to installation.

Born in 1971 in Algeria, Abdessemed now lives and works in Paris. He began his artistic career at a very young age, producing works in Batna, Algiers, Lyon, Paris, New York, Berlin and once again in Paris.

Based on the artist's previous performance art, some might think that his works are harsh and violent, but they would surprisingly find another tender and even poetic facet of him at this exhibition.

The music pervading the space of the fourth and fifth floors is entitled "The Homing Pigeon" composed by Franz Schubert, and the lyrics are derived from Johann Gabriel Seidi's poem. It was the last song written by Schubert.

The video is of the same title, featuring a pigeon standing quietly on a metallic barrier under a dark background.

A rare visual and sound experience is simultaneously obtained inside the museum.

Contrast is an integral feature of his artworks. Visitors may find water and fire, darkness and light, silence and sound, elevation and descent, rawness and subtlety. In fact the works might trigger uncomfortable feelings. However, if one faces such discomfort, then a wider and deeper world might be "unveiled."

Solo exhibition at Bund museum conveys 'An Imperial Message'

"A Cat Passing in Between Us" (2018)

For example, "A Cat Passing in Between Us" is a video that directly faces the visitors and at the same time hides the access on the third floor gallery, wrapping up the visitors into an utter darkness.

The video loop is a very short sequence showing a black cat stepping down the stairs in the dark. Seemingly that cat discretely escapes a space for another one. The eyes of the cat are unwittingly confronting those of the visitors. The daunting image of the black cat, plus the dim light and deep blue painted walls, pulls visitors into a subtle and secret experience that embraces night and discomfort.

Another impressive piece at the exhibition is the artist's newly produced series of large charcoal drawings. Entitled "Air," the series features human body figures in various postures floating in the void of paper. They are either upside down with their upper bodies straight and bent at the knees, or spread out their limbs to arduously touching upward.

The dark black charcoal strokes sketch out the vague lines of the bodies, making them more like shadows suspended in the air rather than bodies with concrete curves. The small, blackened body figure contrasts strongly with the large blank background, and it is hard to tell whether these people want to accept or escape their fate and death.

Exhibition info:

Date: Through September 11 (closed on Mondays), 10am-6pm

Venue: Rockbund Art Museum

Address: 20 Huqiu Rd

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