Abed Al Kadiri
Opening reception: Thursday 8 March from 18:00 to 21:00
The Story of the Rubber Tree is an ongoing project that examines the histories of Beirut’s abandoned houses, frequently re-inhabited and invaded by rubber trees. Once planted to provide shade in urban gardens, rubber trees now grow wild in the absence of people to manage them, undermining the foundations of the houses they occupy. Abed Al Kadiri’s new painting, sculpture, and video works trace the complex familial narratives and memories embedded in such spaces, taking the tree as witness to their histories.
Consciously unfolding as chapters in a narrative, Al Kadiri reflects on the social, economic, and physical transformations that Beirut has undergone in the last century, through the prism of a single family’s home.
The Blacksmith and the Rubber Tree (2017-18), is a triptych of large-scale paintings that interweave moments of utopia, labor, and isolation. The structure of the storybook is the architecture for intermittent interaction between the blacksmith, his house, and the rubber tree in his garden. Though Al Kadiri works predominantly in painting, his use of pencil and graphite reflects the provisional nature of such stories, and the suspension of time.
The installation, In Dreams: Branch is the Brother (2017-18), comprises of a sculpture cast in bronze, directly from the fragments of five rubber trees gathered from five different houses across Beirut. The rubber chair is a replica of the original metal chair found in the blacksmith’s house. The work reflects on the branch and the tree as symbols for the familial, connection, and the personal; their material mirrors the work of the blacksmith himself.
Al Kadiri’s broader practice examines thematics of violence, cultural heritage, migration, and belonging; The Story of the Rubber Tree explores the changes wrought on Beirut’s urban and personal fabrics, and the tree’s ability to address intimate shared histories.
About the artist
Abed Al Kadiri (b.1984, Beirut, Lebanon) double majored in Arabic Literature and Fine Arts at the Lebanese University. Solo exhibitions include Abu Ghraib (2006); In the Corner (2008); Identity Turbulences (2011); Al Maqama 2014 (2015); Ashes to the Sea (2016); Arcadia (2016), and Al Maqama Al Mosuliya (2017). Al Kadiri has also participated in several group exhibitions regionally and internationally including Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Bahrain, Istanbul, Hungary, Paris, Cambridge, and Basel.
From 2006-2015, Al Kadiri held various positions apart from his painterly practice. He worked as an art critic beginning in 2006, before establishing the FA Gallery, Kuwait, in 2010. He was the director of Contemporary Art Platform (CAP) Kuwait in 2012, which has become one of the leading non-profit arts institutions in the Middle East. There, he curated numerous exhibitions and developed an extensive education program. He also initiated art exchange programs making way for collaborations with major art spaces in France, Spain, Hungary, the UK, South Korea, Lebanon, Egypt, and the Gulf. In 2015, Al Kadiri left his position at CAP, and has been living in Beirut working as a full-time artist since 2016. He is the cofounder of Dongola, a publishing house for limited edition books produced by artists. He was recently awarded the Sursock Museum Prize at the 32nd Salon d’Automne (2016).