ATHR Gallery is pleased to announce the participation of Saudi-Palestinian artist, Dana Awartani at Frieze No.9 Cork Street with a presentation of her solo exhibition ‘When Fire Loves Water’. The exhibition will take place on the 7th of June 2022 in gallery 3 at Cork Street. 

‘When Fire Loves Water’ presents a selection of works by Dana Awartani that explore the potentialities of geometric compositions to chart spiritual journeys and convey contemporary realities through poetic abstractions. The exhibition demonstrates the artist’s mastery of deploying absolute pure geometric modes, in faithful acts of repetition and revival, to realize radical reinterpretations. The selection unfolds around the artist’s explorations of the circular form, revealing how meaning is constructed, to re-imagine new possibilities emanating from the same places.

The exhibition is drawn from the title of a series by Awartani, who was inspired by the poetry of Shams Tabrizi, who taught the prolific Sufi mystic poet, Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī. The series consists of two bodies of work: ‘In Search of Silence’ expands beyond the formal limits of traditional miniature painting techniques and explore new languages of expression, one that is more fluid, spontaneous and unrestrained; ‘The Union of Fire and Water’ brings two different temporalities together and employs the fluid and inherent repetitive nature of drawing the circle as a means of turning inwards; offering a path towards introspective and meditative states of being.

To honor the historic and tradition of mastering geometric form and craftsmanship, the exhibition includes ‘The Platonic Solid Duals’ series, commissioned, and presented first at the 2016 Marrakech Biennale. Working closely with craftsmen from India to create the core shapes in wood, the works exemplify the ancient study of Euclidean geometry within the Islamic geometric tradition and reveal the shapes’ dual properties as a means of engaging with the purity of meanings embedded in the art form.

The video work ‘Listen to My Words’ reveals a digital process of delicate lines that form into geometric compositions, overlaid with various female voices reciting fragments of poetry. Expanding from an earlier immersive work with the same title, the work is inspired by ornamental motifs of jali and mashrabiya, latticed screens used in traditional Islamic architecture and draws from an overlooked tradition of female poets from the pre-Islamic world and through to the 12th century. In interlacing a process of geometric symbolism and poetic utterances by modern-day Saudi women, Awartani’s digital animation unleashes these powerful voices once again and orchestrates an intergenerational dialogue that subtly questions the status of women in contemporary society.

‘When Fire Loves Water’ offers a moment of pause and reflection within the artist’s practice, emphasizing a history of endless artistic pursuit to reveal the limitless potentialities within the perfect circular shape. The exhibition anchors Awartani’s impressive adherence to tradition whilst demonstrating a fluid contemporariness that is drawn from an almost-primordial wisdom and certainty of the past but speaks to the reality and precarity of the present moment.