At London’s Lehmann Maupin gallery, a new exhibition, Disfigurations, puts the works of London-based artist Mandy El-Sayegh in conversation with those of Berlin-based Kader Attia. El-Sayegh, known for her deft ability to transmute space into a tangible, complex node of cultural significance, displays dense, textured canvases in Disfigurations, which are staccatoed by new masks from acclaimed multidisciplinary artist Attia’s Mirrors and Masks series.
Together, the works serve as visual manifestations of the artists’ collective interest in the forces that shape the contemporary world: Attia’s well-researched oeuvre, highlighting the disparity between Western cultures’ simultaneous obsession with and recurring forgetfulness of other cultures, synthesizes with El-Sayegh’s interest in cross-national pop-cultural products: Disfigurations, (part of Frieze London’s 2023 presentations), examines the idea of “body” as not an inflection point but rather a porous entity, absorbing and recapitulating cultural ephemera.
In the exhibition, which runs until November 4th, Attia’s copies of African masks (of which Attia is a connoisseur), are adorned by broken shards of mirror; an effort towards processing the fragmentation of self that comes as a result of existing on the online realm. El-Sayegh’s paintings, themselves fragments, marry images and hand-painted motifs to explore the aesthetics of history across mediums. Mirrored sculptures, reflecting the disparate paintings, create a “mise en abyme” across the exhibition, binding the works of the individual into an infinite dialogue, discrete elements sutured indefinitely into a whole, minding difference, seeking intimacy.