Faisal Samra
March 30 - May 11, 2011

Fusion is characteristic of Faisal Samra’s work. On one part, a cultural amalgam for this Bahrain-born Saudi who studied at the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux Arts in Paris. This sense of mixture can also be found in the media that he utilises, beginning his career with drawings and paintings before delving into performance and video.

By 1989, the artist used primitive and poor materials such as bamboo, threads, or goatskin, focusing on both materials and sensations. Soon after, the fold interferes in his work with the straight line of Deleuze, and as a measure and materialisation of time but also evoking a sense of the most baroque drapery. The fold alludes to a more important metaphor in the Distorted Reality series, initiated in 2005 as distant echoes reminiscent of Francis Bacon’s triptychs. It's all a game of contrasts that these photos, taken in the context of performance, put into play, ranging from masks and bandages, to pain and camouflage, opacity and transparency. The identity of the artist cracks, vanishes and hybridises itself. Just like in the theatre, everyone wears a mask and holds his or her truths. The artist appears in gnarled postures, like a cilice or camisole.

Swaddled, contorted, the character is constrained in his actions until asphyxia. Is this a clash of cultures? Is it difficult to find a place in this fusion sometimes heavy to bear? Is it about avoiding being seen or seeing? The questions like the answers are varied. “The characters are rebelling against temporality, and trying, out of frustration to counter the media image that controls and veils them. Also, it shows how our visual field is loaded and invaded with images”, says Faisal Samra. “The man becomes a warrior who has no arms, a Don Quixote. His defence is to remove himself from the image rather than adding a layer.” Is it a revolt? Without a doubt, since for Samra, it is a source of renewal. But his way of waging war is more defensive than offensive. Such denunciation imposes itself in dots, between indication and incision rather than in a slogan.
As the artist is wary of univocal readings of the world, nothing can be summarised in a single face. This distorted uneven reality also takes its full meaning from the context of rapid urbanisation in the Middle East, where everything suddenly seems artificial, but also the lack of transparency in our political and economical system where things are disordered, without it managing to disentangle itself.

Roxana Azimi
Journalist and Art Critic