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Opening Talk: Artists on Artists – Amba Sayal-Bennett and Augustine Paredes in dialogue with Sarah Almehairi and Khalid Mezaina

Marking the yearly opening of Artist’s Rooms, join us for a conversation with exhibiting artists Amba Sayal-Bennett and Augustine Paredes. Joined by fellow artists present in the Art Jameel Collection, the twofold conversation will look at their present work and practice at large, discussing their creative processes.

Amba Sayal-Bennett is joined in conversation by artist Sarah Almehairi for a conversation looking at practices driven by drawing, sculpture and text, with close attention to architecture, materiality, spectatorship and the relationships between these.

Augustine Paredes is joined in conversation by artist Khalid Mezaina to jointly explore their process of first-person narration, portraiture of city, people, and representation across image, illustration, and beyond.

These conversations are followed by a sound performance by artist Augustine Paredes in the Jameel Arts Centre gallery spaces. Open to all and free to attend. RSVP here.

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 West Asia, South Asia and Africa. These capsule shows are collaborative and curated in dialogue with the artist.

Amba Sayal-Bennett (b. 1991, lives and works in London) is a British-Indian artist working across drawing, projection and sculptural installations. Her practice explores how methods of abstraction are exclusionary and performative, crafting boundaries between what is present, manifestly absent and othered. Her recent work focuses on the migration of modernist forms and their role within fascist and brutalist architecture. Using processes inherent to the diasporic experience, she uses translation as method and explores the movement of bodies, knowledge and form across different sites. Amba received her BFA from Oxford University and her MA in Sculpture from the Royal College of Art. She was awarded her PhD in Art Practice and Learning from Goldsmiths, University of London, and has published her practice-based research with Tate Papers. She is currently an Associate Lecturer at Camberwell College of Arts. Between January and March 2022, she was the Derek Hill Foundation scholar at the British School at Rome in Italy.

Sarah Almehairi (b. 1998, lives and works in Abu Dhabi) is an artist and poet whose overarching body of work unfolds a discourse on themes of materiality, systems & interrelations, and language through the intuitive and poetic examination of narrative and abstraction. By engaging with geometric forms, she extracts and defines a structural language read time and time again to suggest a form other than its own – a map, a sentence, a puzzle piece. Through the process, they are broken down, built, and reassembled as continuous iterations of themselves. These elements towards telling a story are not so explicit, lines and layers are used throughout her pieces as a means of exploring clarity and organization of collected information. Working primarily with investigative range of media, she explores the push and pull of material to evoke a story that both conceals and reveals itself. Sarah Almehairi lives and works in Abu Dhabi. She received her BA in Art and Art History from NYU Abu Dhabi. She is also the co-founder of JARA Collective.

Augustine Paredes (b. 1994, lives and works in Frankfurt/Main and Dubai) is a Filipino multi-disciplinary artist working with photography, painting, installation and poetry. Through his practice, Augustine questions what it means to desire in the light of migration, identity and longing. His work has been included in group and solo exhibitions across the UAE, Germany, Philippines, Malaysia, Latvia, Australia and the United States. He has been commissioned by the Diriyah Biennale Foundation, Alserkal Arts Foundation, Art Dubai, Warehouse 421, Goethe Institut, and the Royal Commission of AlUla; and has participated in residencies and fellowships which include the AlUla Artist Residency, Salama Bint Hamdan Emerging Artist Fellowship, Campus Art Dubai, and the International Summer School of Photography in Latvia. As an author, Augustine has published several art and poetry books, including Conversations at the end of the universe (2020), Long Night Stands With Lonely, Lonely Boys (2021), Happy to be here to be happy (2022), The Bitter Taste of Sweetness (2022), and Slow Disco (2024). Additionally, he is the co-founder of Sa Tahanan Collective alongside curator Anna Bernice delos Reyes, aiming to create a platform for Filipino art and creatives through exhibitions, art sales, and collaborations.

Khalid Mezaina (b.1985, lives and works in Dubai) is an illustrator and textile artist from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. He graduated from the American University of Sharjah in 2006 (BS Visual Communications) and from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2018 (MFA Textiles). Between his two degrees, Khalid worked as a graphic designer and projects coordinator in various art institutions in the UAE, including the Sharjah Art Foundation and Tashkeel in Dubai. Outside his working hours, Khalid pursued his own creative practice by participating in art exhibitions, residencies and projects both locally and internationally. Since 2018, Khalid has been focusing on an independent studio practice and is currently freelancing as a commercial illustrator alongside expanding his body of work as a textile artist. Khalid’s works contextualize personal narratives, stories and relationships with a city that is always changing. He illustrates observations, memories and imaginations – ranging from his curiosity for regional and historical talismanic practices, to observations on Dubai in a constant state of transformation. Khalid also makes work inspired by things that bring joy, from his love for comic books, dance and pop music, to his fascination with ceremonial textiles and costumes, and stories about the human condition.
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