Saher Nassar rebels against misleading metaphors at Zawyeh Gallery - GulfToday

Saher Nassar rebels against misleading metaphors at Zawyeh Gallery

saher 2

Scenes from the Smoking Kills composition.

Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer

Zawyeh Gallery, Alserkal Avenue, Dubai, has announced the opening of a new exhibition titled “Metaphor” by young Palestinian artist Saher Nassar (till Nov. 6).

In his debut exhibition, Nassar reflects the spirit of a mutineer or a revolutionary. He rebels against dominant metaphors, established symbols and the power of authority.

The show consists four series of artworks that focus on the theme of breaking metaphors and resisting rules, expectations or norms and questioning representations of establishment and authority.

Nassar works in a range of materials and styles and uses a mixture of abstract paintings, collage, drawings and photographs in addition to readymade objects.


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He ridicules and exposes what lies under and beyond the surface, encourages accepting other opinions, beliefs and behaviours different from one’s own, and rejects the domination of power and authority.

In one series, he places five packs of cigarettes in the middle of five different archival images of war that took place in five different countries around the world.

The message on the five packs reads: Smoking Kills, in the five languages connected to the different geographies where the photos were taken.

The series stresses on two layers of dangerous threats to humanity: war and smoking. Nevertheless, the third layer that he is trying to convey can be read between the lines: it’s the lethal combination between capitalism and politics, where the politics of war paves the way for western multi-national conglomerates, to dominate the economies of poorer countries, by selling products that also kill.

In Network, Nassar’s works take the form of abstract art, through geometric colourful strips that occupy the canvas. In the middle of each work, he adds an actual blood slide sample.

saher 1  Ridiculing unbridled power is a feature of Saher Nassar’s work.

The stripes are meant to reflect the variety of data that blood samples carry, representing “one’s behaviour and their likes and dislikes, and what makes them who they are”.

So even though drop of blood can unite a group of people metaphorically, the details tell a different story. In this sense, the artist makes his call against tribal partisanship and ethnocentrism. He looks at how individuals are, and not how they seem.

In Kill The Metaphor, he presents a series of mixed media artworks, exploring “the myth of power and the power of myth”, in different ways.

Nassar says that his works are intended to shake the status quo and highlight the exertion of power and authority imposed on individuals and society at large, and they are meant to discuss control and domination and attempts to resist them.

He explains the metaphor as “a tool that’s meant to help us understand phenomena and make sense of the world around us; however, it could be deceitful and could prevent us from seeing the truth.”

Nassar’s carefully chosen words and images try to expose objects or actions that reinforce the authority of power over people and encourage narrow mindedness, while making them think otherwise.

“Two things are central keys to my work,” Nassar says. “Knowledge and deep observation, which I believe are the best practice to encounter and solve visual problems.

“I developed as illustrator and fine artist alongside my professional development in design and visual branding, and always had the goal of accompanying design structural elements with the right aesthetics, in the seek of big ideas.” “Metaphor” is organised as part of a series of exhibitions at Alserkal Avenue with the aim of encouraging young Palestinian artists to create and become participants, and provide them a platform to exhibit their works in front of a wider international audience. It is part of the gallery’s attempts to empower and support young emerging artists.

Nassar was born in Palestine in 1986. Following his graduation from the University of Hertfordshire, England, he started a career in illustration and graphic design, working with various renowned media institutions.

It didn’t take long before he discovered himself as an artist and embarked on his journey in art. He uses different methods and materials and his artistic approach varies between conceptual, abstract and pop art.

He participated in several group exhibitions and was commissioned by Alserkal Avenue and Manarat Al Saadiyat (MAS), Abu Dhabi, among other institutions in the UAE.

His current practice is centered around contemporary art, and his artworks tend to discuss various subjects and present social critique in correlation with an individual’s conformity and the status quo.

He has participated in several art projects and exhibitions, including a group show at Satellite Gallery, Dubai, UAE (2017), a group show, Tashkeel Hub Gallery, Dubai, UAE (2018), in addition to commissions by DIFC, Dubai (2019), Emaar Foundry, Dubai (2019) and BMW, Dubai (2019).

He was born in Gaza and lives and works in Dubai. He is a graduate of the College of Applied Art, Palestine. At the University of Hertfordshire, he studied illustration. Social Observation and self-interpretation are key roles in his creative practice, which intersects with skills in art and design.

Zawyeh Gallery is an independent Visual Art Gallery founded in Ramallah, Palestine, in 2013. Since 2020, the gallery has expanded by opening in a second location in Dubai.

The gallery’s mission is to promote emerging and established Palestinian artists — from Palestine and the Diaspora — through various thematic exhibitions at home and aboard.

In the past few years, it has organised several solo and collective exhibitions, showcasing artworks based on a variety of mediums including painting, sculpture, installation, video and photography.

Zawyeh aims at supporting young artists and showcasing contemporary and modern Palestinian art internationally, by participating in art fairs, exhibitions, and projects.

The gallery has participated in a number of art fairs, including Paris Contemporary Art Show P/CAS (2019), Contemporary Istanbul (2019), Galleries at MAS, Abu Dhabi (2019), Art Dubai (2021, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016), Abu Dhabi Art (2019, 2018) and Beirut Art Fair (2018, 2017).

Zawyeh believes in investing in creativity and artistic talents in Palestine, as a way of resilience in the face of adversities.

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