27 February 2024–15 April 2024

Immortal Moment - Coping with the Shock

Part of Alserkal Art Week

A solo exhibition featuring Faisal Samra’s recent body of work.

Starts 27 February 2024

Ends 15 April 2024

Venue Ayyam Gallery

Warehouse 11


This exhibition showcases the second body of work from the Immortal Moment project, in which Faisal Samra creates artworks through the accumulation of instances, pushing the viewer to question the opportunities of a single moment. In the first chapter of this project, Faisal describes the technique as capturing a moment and immortalizing it in time through gestural performances, serving as an expression of emotions. However, now, he defines the outcome as a “shock”. This exhibition will reveal the process of Coping with the Shock. While the concept of fight or flight is thoroughly examined in the fields of medicine and psychology, Faisal introduces a novel conceptualisation of it through his artistic practice. At a moment of shock, either the moment dominates and controls us, or we absorb and adapt to it, metamorphosing into a new form. To survive and overcome the shock is what we call coping.

In the spirit of fight, the artist intervenes post gesture to cope with what chance and the laws of physics produce. The study of the improvised creation allows the artist to seek meaning within the abstraction. Therefore creating postshock creatures and figures. In a meditative process, the summation of dots and splashes of color amount to what the artist is looking for. Ultimately, this artistic endeavor becomes an endless cycle of documentation, acts, and gestures that trace time and immortalize it, one overcoming the other.

The cyclic timeline in capturing the essence of moments is evident in his concepts and the evolution of his artistic practice. In the Distorted Reality series (2005/2011), Faisal chose a moment from countless stills of filmed performances. In the subsequent project, Thriving Emotions - Immortal Moment the artist identifies the moment before anything else. The emphasis lay on the emotion conveyed through the spontaneous act of creating marks. The Immortal Moment project comes to a full circle in this exhibition: through gestural mark-making, Faisal restructures the singular moment of action to birth a new series of moments to establish control amidst the unpredictable.

The dialogue between the abstract and figurative, conceptually or formalistically, is essential to Faisal’s work. Time, being one of the most abstract ideas becomes figurative when Faisal visually notes down specific points in time through the use of charcoal and paint. The result is formalistically abstract, but the final creation becomes figurative through several interventions, which represent a culmination of temporal instances.

About the artist

Long considered one of the Arab Gulf’s foremost artists and a pioneer of conceptual art in the Middle East, Bahraini- born, Saudi national Faisal Samra incorporates digital photography, painting, sculpture, video, and performance in
a creative repertoire that explores existentialist themes with the figure at its center. Since the mid-1970s, Samra
has tested the conventional functions of media through meticulously structured works with experimentation and research as the guiding principles of his artistic practice. As his oeuvre has progressed and defied traditional modes of representation, he has rebelled against his own understanding of art, transitioning into new works that maintain three essential concepts: spontaneity, dynamism, and secrecy.

In 1974, Samra emigrated from Saudi Arabia to France to attend the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-
Arts (ENSBA), Paris. While studying at the esteemed institution, he immersed himself in the work of modern and contemporary European artists. This initial period of Samra’s development was distinguished by expressionist drawings and paintings that investigate the body in motion or at rest, establishing a conceptual basis for later videos, photographs, and installations, while also demonstrating his initial rejection of the prescribed forms of figuration.

Opening: February 27 from 6 pm - 9 pm, in presence of the artist.