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Elena El Asmar REVERIE

In our last appointment we presented the work of the artist from Azerbaijan Fai Ahmed. Now we would like to tell you about another (this time female) artist who also works with elements of middle eastern/ Islamic Art and also puts them in the medias of contemporary art. The artist, whose works were exhibited in a cultural center of Milan, is Elena El Asmar (Florence 1978) and studied at the Perugia's Art Academy. She works between Milan and Finland, where she belongs to the founders of the art project called "madeinfinlandia". From 2000 until today she showed her works in different exhibitions in many cities of Italy (among which Rome and Florence), but also in one exhibition in Beirut at the art space of the "Dome city Center".

What should be said about the artist in fact, and what we can also deduce from her name, is that she was born in Tuscany, by an Italian mother and a Lebanese father. In this sense, she holds in her persona two characters, two cultures, two worlds, which she combines together through her works of art. If Faig Ahmed uses the language of the carpets to express his link to his homeland, Elena El Asmar also avails herself of a very old textile technique, which is the one of the tapestry.

In the History of Art tapestries were realized by women, but the preparatory sketch, was (exclusively) done by male artists (one of the most famous examples are Raphael's cartoons at the Victoria and Albert Museum); what El Asmar wants to do , is to turn this tradition upside down, therefore she produce the preparatory sketches herself (like Faig Ahmed), and let transpose them on fabric by a weaving factory. What is also different in her tapestries, is the fact that they are not thought to be hung on walls (like the tradition wants), but to be hung in front of big glass windows, as if they were a dress worn by the window: the glass screen lets gush the light and lets the colors (white, black and grey tones) shine, it lets intuit weft and warp thread, recto and verso.

Reverie, 2016, 170x220 cm, Tapestry

Reverie, 2016, 170x220 cm, Tapestry

Reverie, 2016, 170x220 cm, Tapestry

The title the artist chose for these tapestries is "Reverie", which is written on purpose with no accent (like the French orthography wants); the lack of the accent is a sign which has got a precise sense, i.e. to evoke the artist's Italian roots, which modifies her second mother tongue language (French) and produces a unique language, which strictly has to do with the artist's daily life. The mix of cultures evoked by the title is underlined by the works, which are the product of a complicated interlacement of threads, which mirrors El Asmar's day-to-day experience, which is a continue overlapping of cultures, of past and present.

Elena El Asmar designed -for her tapestries- objects which belong to everyday life, because there is "no pretense to possess them" explains the artist, rather to transform these objects into subjects, by making them accessible to the spectator. In this way, the two candlesticks, which the artist "brought with herself from apartment to apartment", seem to become on the tapestry fantastic architectures, which appeal to Ancient Rome but also to Arabia Felix. Once transposed on fabric, the photography of the two candlesticks, looks like a sky-line of a fairy-tale landscape, dominated by two minarets.

As the artist tried to describe her works, she defined them as "horizons which overlapped one over the other, and that she was never able to list, catalogue distinguish and differentiate"; it is for this reason that we feel so puzzled and confused when we first look at her giant tapestries: because they are the personification of the enquiry of the self, of the investigation which tries to reach the nucleus of her existence. This sense of confusion is what leads us to ask ourselves about our own past and presence, about our roots, about our own life. And isn't this exactly the duty of art?


La quarta vetrina – Reverie di Elena El Asmar

Curated by Francesca Pasini.

Exhibition to see from 30th March to 25th April 2016 Via Pietro Calvi 29 20129 Milano

Reverie, 2016, 170x220 cm, Tapestry

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