Think of a palimpsest. You might be imagining a manuscript of some kind, maybe papyrus or parchment. Certainly it is an object that has been used more than once to convey a message. For some reason, now lost to us, the previous message is still partially visible and speaks unexpectedly once again. Hend Al-Mansour screen-prints, draws and paints on large sheets of fabric or paper. Like a palimpsest she uses her designs within spatial architecture. It is a subtle and sometimes not so subtle way of commentary of challenging the dominant hegemony. She says: ‘My images examine Arab’s social values and cultural ideals. I explore the veiled spaces of Arab women, and juxtapose that with the deeply seated belief of the sacred feminine. I do this through celebrating the Arab aesthetics.’
She brings culture with her, it leaches into her work showing the journey but with a focus on the present. ‘I make art by drawing upon traditional aesthetics’ both literally and metaphorically but expectation is swept away in powerful installations of breathtaking colour and design. ‘I make drawings of stylized figures and faces integrated with Arabic patterns and calligraphy.’ These drawings are then transformed into screen-prints on fabric using a combination of dye, ink and henna. Fabric too is a traditional choice but it’s also malleable, free, and traditionally an important Islamic medium. ‘I lay my treated textile over solid frames to make spaces akin to mosques, tents and palaces, with chambers, corridors, domes, and arches completed with ceilings and rugs. The sensory experience of being inside the art is my way to claim Arab art as a valid and contemporary form of art. With a vibrant palette of reds and golds, I assert my identity as an Arab artist. Homage to oriental rugs, Arabesques, Arabic calligraphy, Arab mosaics, and tile design is a commentary on Arab art.’
The cross fertilization between the ancient and traditional, the contemporary challenges and a rapidly transforming aesthetic is central to Hend Al-Mansour‘s work. She has been exhibiting for ten years now both in small shows and with groups of artists and has shown in places such as Saudi Arabia and Minneapolis. The artist is also a Member ofTomouh, a group of leaders in various disciplines from the Gulf Countries Council; board Member of Arab-American Cultural Institute (AACI); founding member of Arab Artists in the Twin Cities (AATC) and also organizes and curates group shows for Muslim and Arab artists.
Al-Mansour also lectures and publicly speaks about artists in Muslim societies and women in Islam. These interests demonstrate Al-Mansour’s breadth and philosophy which is transferred to her work. With a background in medicine where she is highly qualified and a Masters degree in Fine Arts the artist shows her passion for intellectual enquiry, spirituality and creativity. Lahd Gallery is delighted to show a dynamic artist who produces such a diverse range of work from smaller paintings like Facebook to a stunning installation, The Habiba Room, whose palette and intensity is breathtaking. There is no doubt Al-Mansour’s work has the power to excite and represent the past, challenge both prejudice and expectation and make us look again. Do not miss this exciting opportunity to see an artist working in her prime!