Fresh from being awarded the Grand Prix Léopold Sédar Senghor Prize at the 11th edition of Dak'Art, the Biennial of Contemporary African Art in Dakar, Senegal earlier this year, 'Inside Zenith' brings together a selection of new paintings and some works on paper. Continuing his preoccupation with vacant urban environments at the margins of cities in Africa and Europe, these works share a new dreamlike perspective, they feel less literal, moving towards abstraction, the lines blurring between reality and the artist's imagination.
The work that inspired the title of the exhibition is modelled on impressions Ouadahi has built up of Dubai during recent visits. His method of practice involves working from photographs taken during his travels and meshing them with images from his memory to create a collage of different buildings and spaces, constructing a new, fantastical urban structure each time. He is interested in how to transpose the monumental, dream-like architecture of the Gulf States into the space of a painting, giving us a variety of viewpoint at once, replicating the palimpsest often at play. Some buildings, waterways and open spaces in the painting appear familiar and yet are difficult to precisely locate. Inside Zenith is really an impossible place to inhabit - 'zenith' refers to an imaginary point in the celestial sphere directly above a particular location, which you cannot get inside. Zenith also suggests success or power and is therefore a rather appropriate word to define Dubai, its exponential growth and seemingly limitless ambition.