Earthly Treasures: Mohamed Abla

10 November 2021 - 24 January 2022

This three-month exhibition marked Abla’s fifth solo show with Tabari Artspace. Channeling Abla’s unique optimism, the aim of this presentation was to capture imaginations and unite generations through the artist’s mesmeric world.


The body of work comprised a selection of mixed media collages, in varying scale, that orbited around the spirit and healing properties of plant life, particularly the cactus. Abla dislodged the cactus from its geographic fixtures and unleashed it into new otherworldly realms. For Abla, the cactus was both a source of healing energy and a mythical entity. It spiraled out from the desert, breaking away from traditional color codes and structures into surreal and unexpected settings. In Earthly Treasures, the cactus, morphing into fluid forms, glowed against the night sky and appeared from the bottom of the ocean, ushering into question: "What planet are we on?"


While the desert and sandstone dominated the palette of much of the built and lived environment in the MENA region, Abla, known for his joyful and vibrant compositions, fueled the cactus with a powerful psychedelic palette and rich textures in order to transcend it into a higher frequency. He reimagined the prickly exterior of the cactus, instead packing it with bountiful pink blooms and stars shooting into the stratosphere. Through his manipulations, he transcended these plants into a state of higher consciousness where they became soulful beings that danced, moved, and interacted with one another.


While traveling the Silk Road route to draw inspiration for a previous body of work, The Silk Road series (2017), Abla encountered an ancient marbling technique in Turkey called erbu marbling, which he subsequently absorbed into his practice. Uniting his appreciation for ancient cultural practices and the contemporary, in several pieces, Abla charged layers of silk paper with this historic approach to marbling, which were then reconfigured through his personal approach to collage and combined with slices of color in oil paint and acrylic.