Internationally recognized Egyptian contemporary artist Armen Agop will present a new body of work at Meem Gallery in Dubai this month. Opening on November 18, 2019 and on view through February 13, 2020, Agop’s solo exhibition ‘Mantra’ demonstrates the spirituality in Armen Agop’s contemporary artworks. It is not only his first in the United Arab Emirates but also the public debut of his paintings and drawings. His well-known abstract, black granite sculptures will be shown alongside these works on paper and canvas.
Across media, Armen Agop’s works are each marked by his concept of complete synergy of mind, body, and spirit. The title of this multidisciplinary exhibition, ‘Mantra,’ reflects this nature of the works as physical documentation of a ruminative, spiritual practice. From the slow process of working with granite which requires patience and repetitive gestures to the paintings and works on paper where Agop uses the smallest (0.1) pen tip to seek an internal cosmos, the spiritual outcome of this work is a natural consequence of a meditative practice that the artist has developed based on the focus of the duration of time.
Each sculpture, drawing, or painting is undertaken with a single focus determined by Agop, creating through a repeated action: the point. The point is one of the smallest graphic elements, and by applying it over and over, Agop seeks to discover its limitless potential and to reach profound experiences. This is a concept that the artist returns to again and again.
The sculpting of granite is a grueling and lengthy task, and the manifold, repetitive movements – carving, grinding and perpetual shaping of the material – become an almost meditative process. Agop’s ultimate sculptures appear like futuristic beings or sleek UFOs, familiar yet foreign, while the powerful lines and simple shapes are also reminiscent of ancient Egyptian art. His three-dimensional work contains these diverse aspects of the broad time-horizon, introducing us to the internal juxtaposition that is palpable in each work.
By contrast, in the works on paper and canvas, it is the meditative process itself that unveils the composition through the artist’s mark-making, manifesting as a “result of the duration of time and rituality.” At ﬁrst glance, Agop’s luminous paintings resemble the inherent monumentality of Agop’s sculptural work – large, black expanses of space. Upon closer inspection, the works open up to reveal a collection of points in colourful hues, lightly and purposefully placed upon the canvas, cosmic in their composition. There is a softness to the works on canvas, a striking contrast to the solid and stoic sculptural works of the same subject matter.
For this exhibition, Agop renounces any skill in painting or drawing to instead adopt a gestural mantra, following the instinctive desire of doing without aiming to convey a particular message. Using the smallest possible pen tip of 0.1, he repeats it endlessly with a sober gesture. The notions of time, labor, and ritual are rethought in a pure act of processing time. The paintings are thus the materialization of the duration of time. By experiencing endlessness, mantra becomes the matter.
Following the opening of the exhibition, Meem Gallery will also present Agop’s work in a solo booth at the Abu Dhabi Art Fair from November 21 through 23, 2019. This presentation will include works on paper, paintings and sculptures, each medium acting as a complement to the other.