Tabari Artspace Gallery in Dubai presented a series of works by Kuwaiti painter, Alymamah Rashed.
Visual artist Alymamah Rashed’s gestural, surrealist paintings harnessed self-portraiture to investigate the complexities of identity in the post-internet generation. Rashed understood herself as a multifaceted being, and the various elements that comprised her persona flowed out into the different realms that she emitted onto her canvas: the earth-bound (the mind and the fleshed body), the spiritual (the thobe), and a combination of the two which came to form a third space. Spirituality, specifically the notion of spiritual intelligence, had been a central tenet of Rashed’s existence, yet she understood spirituality as universal; the act of prayer was engaged with across faiths and cultures. Observing the body as a capsule of movement, through the process of prayer Rashed could transcend as she witnessed her physical and spiritual worlds conflate.
Referencing late Algerian modernist pioneer Baya Mahieddine's colour-fuelled, idiosyncratic form of autobiographical portraiture, her large-scale works negotiated her female subjectivity. Rashed drew from regional folklore and the rapid social shifts that she had witnessed, such as the modernisation and industrialisation of the Gulf region. She negotiated readings of Islamic philosophy and poetry, and ornamentation and the everyday banal objects that she encountered. The artist was inspired by the likes of Francis Bacon, Chris Ofili, and the ornamentation of Matisse. Rashed’s internal world manifested in her art through icons absorbed from myriad sources including regional typographic, Persian and Afghani visual icons, Sufi poetry, philosophy, and theology, responding to both Plato and Muslim scholars such as Suhrawardi and Ghazali. Her father, an academic and humanitarian, and her mother, an economist with an affinity for art, design, and culture, had also come to inform the artist’s multifaceted world, which she dutifully relayed through her art.
Rashed received her MFA in Fine Arts at Parsons School of Design in 2019 and her BFA in Fine Arts at The School of Visual Arts in 2016. She participated in various exhibitions in New York City, including the Czech Center, Parsol Projects, and The New School.
She was a recipient of the Masters Scholarship and the Merit Scholarship program by the Kuwait Ministry of Higher Education. She was also a fellow at the Professional Development Initiative Program sponsored by the National U.S-Arab Chamber of Commerce, Kuwait Ministry of Higher Education, Embassy of Kuwait, and the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences.