23 January 2022–10 March 2022

Constructivism | We See Things As We Are

by Zeinab AlHashemi

23 January 2022–10 March 2022 | Part of Alserkal Art Week

Starts 23 January 2022

Ends 10 March 2022

Venue Leila Heller Gallery

Warehouse 86/87


Zeinab AlHashemi is an Emirati conceptual artist currently based in Dubai. Zeinab is continually searching, through her art, for an understanding of how shapes and symbols resonate with the human mind in micro and macro contexts. Zeinab describes her work as ‘contemporary spatial art’, art that is meant to be experienced through movement and interaction rather than static observation. This series relates to the artist’s larger body of work which is concerned with deconstructing and reconstructing the reality that surrounds her. To explore this concept through her unique visual language, Zeinab employs the use of a repetition and colour theory to transform the mundane to the celebrated.

With a BA from Zayed University in Arts and Sciences, Zeinab has cultivated an understanding of the patterns that exist in nature and the manmade world. Through researching how geometry can be found all around us, from the golden ratio, the Fibonacci series, the Mandelbrot and the flower of life, she has come to observe the interconnectivity and resonance that exists between all things. The artist seeks to explore whether complex systems can be represented by objects we are all familiar with. She finds a symbiosis in the way nature organises itself and the algorithms our brains use to process. Her work seeks to express how our brains shape the world around us by collecting information on specific patterns once we attribute importance or attention to doing so. Zeinab is inspired by the writing of Charles Darwin in “The Origin of Species” and his theory of natural selection, which she communicates through her work. She explores the dynamic of cocreation, how humans have sought to exert absolute physical dominance over the natural world whilst relying upon the natural genetic mutations of evolutionary processes to achieve it. Zeinab finds harmony in the interplay between the workings of man and nature, which she expresses through elegant line and form.

Material selection is a key device Zeinab uses to communicate the conceptual elements of her pieces, but is also key to understanding the artist herself. The construction materials represent the artist’s relationship with her body as she experienced a severe trauma that required the use of metal screws and rods in her treatment. This allows her to feel a deep connection to her home city as she witnessed its period of immense change. The backbone of Zeinab’s relationship with materials is best defined by her use of a metal mesh, a symbol of genesis in construction. She juxtaposes natural and industrial materials as a humbling reminder of the natural worlds innate power.

Zeinab is aware that objects can be used repetitively to sperate us and define our differences, whilst also being the talismans that remind us of our ultimate unity in being. Zeinab recognises how sometimes her ideas stem from childhood, yet reverberate lessons which she is continually learning throughout her adult life, revealing how art can act as an anchor for our subconscious minds to remedy our present with our past.

This is the first series of work where Zeinab isn’t leaving the elements raw or with their natural finish. She is instead playing with the CMYK colour model, a subtractive model which refers to the four ink plates used in colour printing: cyan, magenta, yellow and key. The model makes use of half-toning and colour masking to work with the optical processes of how light reflects in the human eye, allowing for less ink and more colours to be printed. The three colours of the model correspond to Zeinabs use of 3 in this series. The colours are also inspired by artists from the Bauhaus movement and their use of line and from with primary colours that aimed to reintroduce art into the public sphere and ensure arts had a central element of functionality. The link is clear between Zeinab’s work and this movement as well as the work of artists such as Kandinsky, who understood the importance of colour theory in the composition of his works. She has spoken about her obsession with the exactitude of her pieces, and her need for the multiples and materials to be in order: “It makes me feel like I’m in control, its powerful”. Zeinab’s works exist in the positive and negative space much like the colour model she is inspired by. Her pieces manipulate light and space to engage the gallery walls and provide a more immersive experience for the audience.

The presence of colour may signal a change in mindset for the young artist. She has always viewed her works, in their unfinished, raw essence, as existing in “a state of in-between” perhaps reflecting her own struggles with finding solidity and balance in her physical form after a severe car accident. Zeinab has spoken about her continual search for healing, self-discovery, and answers, in the years since her accident. Existing within an immediate environmental context that is constantly redefining itself, she questioned whether she was shaping or being shaped by her world, and what relationship exists between the two. This series, with its playful nature, expresses the freedom the artist now experiences in her body and how these materials helped carry her to where she is now.