Earthly Treasures: Mohamed Abla

10 November 2021 - 24 January 2022

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


The body of work comprises a selection of mixed media collages, in varying scale, that orbit around the spirit and healing properties of plant life, particularly the cactus. Abla dislodges the cactus from its geographic fixtures and unleashes it into new otherworldly realms. For Abla the cactus is both a source of healing energy and a mythical entity, it spirals out from the desert, breaking away from traditional colour codes and structures into surreal and unexpected settings. In Earthly Treasures, the cactus, morphing into fluid forms, glows against the night sky and appears from the bottom of the ocean ushering into question:  “What planet are we on?”


While desert and the sandstone dominate the palette of much of the built and lived environment in the MENA region Abla, who is known for his joyful and vibrant compositions has fuelled the cactus with a powerful psychedelic palette and rich textures in order to transcend it into a higher frequency.  He has reimagined the prickly exterior of the cactus, instead packing it with bountiful pink blooms and stars shooting into the stratosphere. Through his manipulations, he transcends these plants into a state of higher consciousness where they become soulful beings that dance, move and interact with one another. 


While travelling 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, erbu marbling, which he subsequently absorbed into his practice. Uniting his appreciation for ancient cultural practices and the contemporary, in several pieces Abla has charged layers of silk paper with this historic approach to marbling which are then reconfigured through his personal approach to collage  and combined with slices of colour in oil paint and acrylic.  


“Through Earthly Treasures I bear witness to the healing and uplifting qualities of plants. Through my artistic interventions I invest cacti with human feelings and capabilities, moving them to a higher frequency and alternative realms, where their power might become palpable.”

-Mohamed Abla, 2021