Artist’s Rooms : Taysir Batniji

To My Brother

Taysir Batniji explores loss and memory in To My Brother (2012), a series of 60 inkless ‘drawings’ carved onto paper. Based on family photographs of his brother’s wedding in 1985, the work commemorates his brother’s death, which took place two years after this symbolic date, resulting from Israeli sniper fire during the First Intifada in Palestine in 1987. Batniji’s intimate drawings, from a distance resemble blank sheets of paper, but on close inspection, reveal a personal story of family and celebration etched into the paper—dancing hand-in-hand, embracing each other, men, women and children laughing, and a newly married bride and groom posing and gathering with their guests. The meticulously traced contours of his family’s interactions evoke the pain of loss and absence—emotions that transcend beyond a locale or political discourse. To My Brother was originally awarded as a commission through the Abraaj Group Art Prize in 2012.

Drawn largely from the Art Jameel Collection, Artist’s Rooms is a series of solo exhibitions by influential, innovative artists, with particular focus on practitioners from the Middle East, Asia and Africa. These capsule shows are collaborative and curated in dialogue with the artist. Summer 2020 features rooms by Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Taysir Batniji and Larissa Sansour in galleries 1, 2 and 3.

Taysir Batniji’s (b.1966, Gaza, Palestine) work, often tinged with impermanence and fragility, draws inspiration from his subjective story, as well as current events and history. His methods of approach always distance, divert, stretch, conceptualise or simply play with the initial subject, ultimately offering a poetic and sometimes acrid point of view on reality. He splits his time between France and Palestine, developing a multimedia practice that encompasses drawing, installation, photography, video and performance.

Batniji received his BFA from Al-Najah National University in Nablus, Palestine in 1992, and in 1994 was awarded a fellowship to study at the École nationale supérieure d’art de Bourges, France and received his Diplôme National Supérieur d’Expression Plastique.(DNSEP) in 1997. He was awarded the Abraaj Group Art Prize in 2012, and in 2017 was the recipient of the Immersion residency programme, supported by Fondation d’entreprise Hermès, in partnership with Aperture Foundation. In recent years, he has held solo exhibitions at Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art, Toronto (2019); Les Rencontres d’Arles (2018); Aperture Foundation, New York (2018); The André Malraux Contemporary Art Space, Colmar (2016); Espace Culturel Robert de Lamanon, Salon-de-Provence (2013); Cultural Center Salon de Provence, Marseille (2013); Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, Geneva (2007); and Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam (2004). His works were also shown in group exhibitions, including Jeu de Paume, Paris (2016 and 2020), Boghossian Foundation, Brussels (2018 and 2019); La Kunsthalle, Mulhouse (2017); Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart (2017); Valencia Institute of Modern Art (2016 and 2018); and Centre Pompidou, Paris (2014). He participated in the Venice Biennale in 2011, 2009 and 2003.

Taysir Batniji is represented by Sfeir-Semler Gallery (Hamburg/Beirut) and Éric Dupont Gallery (Paris).

Each Artist’s Room is accompanied by a monograph, published by Art Jameel and available from the Art Jameel Shop.

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