ArtTalks is delighted to present Raas Baladi M’aa Asal Eswed, the first solo exhibit by Mohamed Taman at the gallery.
Raas Baladi M’aa Asal Eswed literally means ‘Belly Dancing with Black Honey’. A pun on popular Arabic expressions, very colloquial Egyptian-Arabic in fact, the exhibition, as much as the unique painting technique, challenges first impressions and calls on the viewer to question what he/she sees, hears, and reads.
Intended as a sarcastic take on much of what is revolving around us and on which we hardly have any control, the 15 paintings use a technical process that Taman has begun and researched across a period of close to twenty years. Characterized by layers of colour materials which Taman forms and uses by hand, the unconventional process of Tamanism involves many petroleum derivatives and oil oxides and ultimately creates unique works based on unusual and singular chemical reactions. Using petroleum solvents to agitate the process, heat to provide flexibility, and low temperature to dry, the critical time between heat and cold enables Taman to control and experiment with lines, shapes and diverse liquid colours on the surface of the wooden canvas. The result of the hard-to-maneuver scientific process, during which the chemicals interact fast, is an intended blurry yet evident view that incites a philosophical connotation on social relevant themes and the current socio-political conditions and provides an angle that in fact contradicts the initial vision. What appears to be definite from afar, when examined close-up is perfectly multi-dimensional and intricate. In fact, we can say that Taman’s take on art and life is summed up by Rumi’s thought: “Why do you stay in prison when the door is wide open?”
Born in the city of Tanta (Gharbiya governorate) in 1976, Mohamed Taman graduated with a BFA in 1998 and completed a Master’s degree in Digital Arts at the Faculty of Arts Education, University of Helwan, in 2004. In 2001, he was awarded the Third Prize at the 11th Youth Salon and in 2002, he earned the First Prize at the 12th Youth Salon, both held by the Egyptian Ministry of Culture. In 2008, Taman enrolled at the Université Lumière Lyon in France and in 2009, he went on an Artist in Residency at one of the most important institutions for young art in Switzerland, the Kunst Halle, Sankt Gallen, to work on a site-specific project. Since, he has exhibited in Egypt, Europe and the Gulf.