A contemporary twist
By Amanda Calvo | Jordan Times
12 July 2010
AMMAN - The art exhibit at Zara Gallery showcases intriguing works by Shereen Audi, Ahmad Sabbagh and Michael Schinkoethe-Typism, the latter two known in partnership as Cattle Republic.
The artists give a contemporary twist to their work, representing repression and corruption through unique, modern pieces. Some represent the artists’ feelings, others reveal a corrupt society that reflects on the younger generation.
Tormenting images in black and red take centre stage in Audi’s paintings; the paint smothers the subjects, enhancing the feeling of oppression. The figures have no definable facial or anatomical characteristics; red splotches mark, stain and accent the pieces while black stripes streak across figures, suffocate them, stand between them and their freedom.
The red splatters are reminiscent of the tears, sweat and blood associated with the inner turmoil brought about by life’s obligations and responsibilities that can weigh down one’s spirit.
The painting titled “Freedom Two” is of two figures imprisoned by black vertical stripes and separated by a red line that confines them to separate cells. The bodies are undefined; their heads’ outline is a quadrilateral shape, like a paper bag that prevents them from experiencing the splendours of life.
The profile of a woman in “Freedom Five”, on a red background mixed with a shade of black, seems to be choking before our eyes. Blindfolded by a thick black band of paint, the woman is held down, her red lips parted in desperation.
Newspaper cutouts make up her neck and hair, speaking of the torture the media industry can inflict on women’s thoughts, subjugating the female existence.
The majority of paintings centre on a feminine body with wings outstretched in an attempt to transcend some barrier. The wings, however, are coated with stripes, confining them to a certain existence.
Audi is successful in conveying a restlessness that is present in life whose obligations can prevent enjoyment.
The Cattle Republic pieces are challenging, fascinating, and a stark expression of society’s flaws and darkest traits.
An untitled painting by Sabbagh and Typism at first appears to be of an innocent young boy and a girl done with light water colours. It only takes a moment to see that the boy is looking up the girl’s dress she holds up, each holding some money in a suggestive, not very innocent gesture.
It talks of lost innocence, undoubtedly brought about by adults’ behaviour.
The idea that actions are engrained in societal behaviour and that every coming generation is likely to follow it like cattle must have given the name to this duo.
Some of their paintings question society’s parenting skills and try to show how issues like violence, abuse, sex and the corruption that comes with money are ignored.
Other pieces are purely experimental, bringing urban art that would normally be classified as graffiti in an Arab context by incorporating spray paint, newspapers and Arabic calligraphy.
The works can be seen at Zara Gallery until July 26.