Lehmann Maupin is pleased to announce Kader Attia’s first exhibition in Hong Kong, presenting recent works on canvas, collage, sculpture, and his film Héroes Heridos (2018), which debuted at the Miró Foundation in Barcelona this summer. In 2017, Attia was awarded the prestigious Joan Miró Prize, preceding his exhibition Scars Remind Us that Our Past Is Real at the foundation. That exhibition, along with this one at Lehmann Maupin, both embody Attia’s career-spanning examination of the notion of repair as a global, cultural phenomenon in response to historic, collective trauma. There will be an opening reception for the artist on Thursday, November 1, at the Pedder Building, from 6 to 8 PM.
Attia is recognised for his rigorous, research-based practice in photography, sculpture, installation, and video. His work examines the wide-ranging effects of colonialism and the repercussions of Western hegemony on non-Western culture. In 2016, he was awarded the prestigious Prix Marcel Duchamp, along with an exhibition at Centre Pompidou, which recognises an artist working in France who has made significant contributions to the canon. Attia grew up in a suburb of Paris and in Algeria, so his experience of living within two different cultures has deeply influenced his practice and strengthened his commitment to the investigation of historical narratives, the development of culture, and the construction of communal and individual identity in the postcolonial era.
Indicative of this framework, Attia’s series of collages juxtaposes reference material illustrating African masks with images of battle injuries suffered by soldiers. This collage series draws from Attia’s study of modern Western aesthetics, which idealises a perfect, unblemished form. The World War I-era soldiers, whose wounds were treated during the early development of plastic surgery, are contrasted with images of artifacts taken from extra-Occidental cultures, which often emphasise the repaired wound—a memorialisation of the act of healing—rather than attempting to erase the scar. For his sculptural work, Attia often incorporates objects from African tribal art, such as the Ngbaka sculpture used in Entropy (2016). By placing traditional objects within a contemporary context and making subtle alterations or additions, Attia invites the viewer to question the complicated and often inaccurate depiction of our multiple histories.
In Attia’s series Mirrors (2014), the stark canvases bare several violent slashes, stitched back together in a manner that emphasises the split, visualising the interdependent dichotomy of injury and healing or repair. Another untitled piece, a triptych created from mirror-polished stainless steel, displays similar slashes; however, these appear to emerge from the work, toward the viewer. In the past, Attia has used mirrors to comment on the idealised pursuit of perfection in Western culture. In this case, he leaves the cut marks unmended to suggest an unaddressed, or suppressed, trauma.
Attia’s film Héroes Heridos is comprised of interviews with immigrant activists who are occupying in protest 'La Massana,' the former School of Arts in Barcelona that Attia attended. The film highlights the challenges and indignities faced by immigrants, and the efforts they are making to change their treatment and legal status. Giving voice to those who lack access to mainstream outlets, Héroes Heridos is a political act and an additional dimension of Attia’s focus on the continued injustice of colonialism. For Attia, revealing these issues has potentially revolutionary ramifications; he explains his inspiration for these works as the 'urge to recover, through form, the field of emotion in the public debate with the aim of repairing the wounds of history.'
Kader Attia (b. 1970, Dugny, France; lives and works in Berlin and Paris) grew up in Algeria and the suburbs of Paris. Drawing from his experience of living within two disparate cultures, he has developed a dynamic practice that examines the intricacies of social, historical, and cultural differences across the globe. Attia’s installations and sculptures offer a poetic yet highly explicit reading of the relationships between Western and non-Western cultures. Through complex investigations of architecture, the human body, literature, and history, Attia demonstrates how individual and cultural identity is constructed within the context of colonial domination and conflict. Using artifacts, discarded quotidian objects, and wartime ephemera, Attia transforms the space of the gallery into one of introspection, allowing the viewer to become aware of the complicated and often inaccurate depiction of our multiple histories. Attia believes that through this type of reappropriation, disparities between superior/inferior, traditional/modern, and exotic/familiar can begin to dissolve.
Attia has received degrees from Ecole Supérieure des Arts Appliqués Duperré, Paris, France in 1993, La Escola Massana Arte i Disseny, Barcelona, Spain in 1994, and Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, France in 1998. Solo exhibitions of his work have been organised at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia (2017); Mary & Leigh Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL (2017); Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main, Germany (2016); Musée Cantonal des Beaux Arts, Lausanne, Switzerland (2015); KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2013); Whitechapel Gallery, London (2013); Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2012); Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA (2007); and Musée d’Art Contemporain de Lyon, France (2006). Select group exhibitions featuring his work include Foreign Gods: Fascination Africa and Oceania, Leopold Museum, Vienna (2016); But a Storm Is Blowing from Paradise: Contemporary Art of the Middle East and North Africa, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2016); Picasso in Contemporary Art, Deichtorhallen, Hamburg, Germany (2015); The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell Revisited, The Smithsonian Museum of African Art, Washington, DC, and traveled to SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, GA, and Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main, Germany (2014–2015); Here and Elsewhere, New Museum, New York (2014); Performing Histories, The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2012); and Contested Terrains, Tate Modern, London, United Kingdom (2011). Attia has participated in multiple biennial exhibitions, including the Marrakech Biennial 4 and 6 (2014 and 2016); 8th and 13th Lyon Biennale (2005 and 2015); dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, Germany (2012); and 50th and 54th Venice Biennale (2003 and 2011). His work is in numerous international public and private collections, including Centre Pompidou, Paris; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA; The Colección Jumex, Mexico City; Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and Tate Gallery, London.
Attia was notably the recipient of the 2016 Prix Marcel Duchamp, an award that honours outstanding artists working in France and supports their ongoing practice. In October 2017, Attia was awarded the sixth Joan Miró Prize. The prize, which is awarded by Fundació Joan Miró and Obra Social 'la Caixa', is one of the most prestigious and generous contemporary art awards in the world.
Press release courtesy Lehmann Maupin.