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"Amma Baad", by Nasser Al Salem

From December 12, 2019 until January 19, 2020From Monday to Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Sundays and holidays from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Closed on wednesday 25 december and wednesday 1 january
Casa Árabe exhibition halls (at Calle Alcalá, 62). From Monday to Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Sundays and holidays from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Free entry until the event’s capacity is reached.

Casa Árabe, in collaboration with the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Spain, presents the exhibition Amma Baad that, curated by Maya El Khalil, presents the latest series of works by Saudi artist Nasser Al Salem in which he explores the conceptual relationship of calligraphy with language, time and space. 

The support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Spain to this exhibition takes place on the occasion of the Saudi Presidency of the G20.

“Amma Baad continues Nasser Al Salem’s expansive approach to the practice of Arabic calligraphy, testing the formal possibilities of the tradition to enfold and enact complex conceptual experiments.
In this new series, Al Salem contemplates the Arabic phrase ‘amma baad’, an expression that has no entirely satisfactory equivalent in English. Often found in formal Arabic correspondence, the expression follows initial salutations and greetings, while preceding – and perhaps anticipating – the main subject or story to follow. It is a moment dense with expectations.

Through calligraphic manipulations, Al Salem explores the potential of the phrase to suggest its own peculiar time and space, apart from the present and what comes before and after. In experimental meditations in sculpture and on paper, the artist expands and collapses conceptions of spatial and temporal order, imagining new dimensions where possible alternatives to the here and now exist.
The present is a contested state of flux, technology and socio-political orders enacting restless and relentless change. Whether it is the pace of transformation that has increased, or merely our conception of it, this is an age of simultaneity.
Al Salem is transposing language into time and space, extending and intertwining each in an effort to realise the potential of this cohabitation, where everything is contemporary for a short time”.
Maya El Khalill

With the collaboration of the Delfina Foundation and Athr Gallery

Nasser Al Salem (b. 1984, Mecca) in his practice challenges the boundaries of the traditional Islamic art of calligraphy, using unconventional mixed media forms to expand its conceptual potential.
Al Salem holds an ‘Ijaza’ certificate in calligraphy, the highest form of recognition and authorisation to transmit the art form. He received his undergraduate in Architecture at Umm Al-Qura University in Mecca, and currently lives and works in Jeddah. He is co-founder of Al-Hangar, an artist collective based in Jeddah, as well as a member of the National Guild of Calligraphers and an active fellow of Saudi Arabia’s Arts and Culture Group. Al Salem has exhibited internationally in many group-shows and his work is part of the collection of: The British Museum, London; LACMA Museum, Los Angeles; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Guggenheim; The Al-Mansouria Foundation, Jeddah; and Ithra Museum, Dhahran. In 2013, Al Salem was shortlisted for the Jameel Prize at the Victoria & Albert Museum. In 2018, the artist’s work was part of The Royal Commission of Al-Ula, Saudi Arabia. Al Salem was an artist-in-residence at Delfina Foundation in 2014 and 2018.

Maya El Khalil is an independent curator, who for the last decade has been involved in the development of the contemporary art scene in Saudi Arabia. From its inception in 2009 until 2016, she was the Director of Athr contemporary art gallery in Jeddah. El Khalil is a holder of a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and an MBA from the American University of Beirut. She is currently pursuing an MA in Art and Politics at Goldsmiths University. El Khalil is the curator of the 7th edition of 21.39 Jeddah Arts that will take place between January 28 and February 1 under the title "I Love You, Urgently."
"Amma Baad", by Nasser Al Salem
Nasser Al Salem, Amma Baad, 2019. Exhibition installation view, Delfina Foundation, 2 July-10 August. Credit Tim Bowditch. Courtesy Delfina Foundation. HR - 17