Shadia is the continuation of Almaha Jaralla’s first solo exhibition at NYUAD Project Space.
The exhibition follows Shadia, Jaralla’s grandmother and a heroic character, who travelled alone through the Arabian Peninsula, as a direct result of lack of access to safety, economy, and prosperity. She left and collected marks in the hopes of seeking better living conditions.
Mobility is central to this journey as it is a catalyst for familial complexity, the anchor of fruitful encounters, and a contributor to our beloved city-scapes. Jaralla’s use of muted, pastel colours and bold, and sometimes fragile strokes reconstruct archival photographs as memorialised paintings of relationships and identities, focused on themes of labour and love, matriarchal epistemologies, and subjective materialism.
The exhibition comprises paintings that range across techniques, from oil on canvas to traditional textiles and material exploration. The artist challenges her conceptualpractice through these works by tying her family’s historical business to sarong making in Aden. Jaralla paints directly onto these sarongs, utilizing the patterns and their significant meanings.
[Text adapted from the NYUAD, Shadia, 2022, exhibition catalogue]
“Usually, when I paint architecture, I treat these houses as portraits. I see what their personalities are and read the characteristics of these houses; who would live and build a house like that, and how would they want to be presented as people? It’s like people wearing clothes. So if I’m going to study Abu Dhabi and share my perspective, I need to start with my parents and grandparents. I wanted my first solo to be about the beginning, even before I was born. To understand me, to understand all the generations that passed me. I’m treating this show as an introduction. To me, to my work, to both.”
-Almaha Jaralla in Conversation With Salem Al Suwaidi