Emirati artist Nujoom Alghanem has painted hundreds of human faces for the Malamih – Faces, Phantoms, Expressions exhibit on display at the Maraya Art Centre in Sharjah. The exhibition will be open to the public till the end of August.
Alghanem began to paint faces and facial expressions two years ago using different materials after it sparked an interest for her in 2016. According to her, there are almost 2,000 renditions of faces on display in her latest exhibition.
Centring on her perception of the spectrum of human expression, Alghanem's pieces are thoughtful, intense, eerie and comical. She had previously showcased her film installation 'Passage' at the UAE Pavillion of the Venice Biennale in 2019. Alghanem considers her latest artworks a natural progression from her previous works, with her interest in the individual narrative taking centre stage once more.
In addition to being an artist, Nujoom is an established poet and film director. She has published eight poetry collections up to date and has been the director of more than 20 films. Her film 'Passage' blends Arabic poetry with filmmaking, inculcating the oral tradition of the former to bring forward two distinct non-linear narratives across two screens.
In Malamih – Faces, Phantoms, Expressions, Alghanem's paintings aim at focusing and exploring the psychology of her subject. The exhibition, which takes place at the Maraya Art Centre in Sharjah, spans across the third floor of the venue. The paintings are arranged in various forms, hung in classic 'Petersburg style' and all differ in size, shape and subject matter. The number of faces in the exhibit can be overwhelming, giving people the sensation of being watched.
The second floor of the art centre contains Alghanem's experimental pieces, fashioned out of unconventional materials such as burlap and jute. Notedly, a display of chopping boards with faces painted on them also exist, reminiscent of meat hanging in butcher shops. The result is sinister and haunting.
The exhibition also features two dark rooms with paintings of faces, digitally animated, lit with fluorescent light. The series is a commentary on the 'selfie age' phenomena.
Also on display are ceramic, concrete and resin-based artworks. The Artist's Room of the exhibition has undergone constant changes, with the artist adding installations and paintings to metamorphose the room.
While leaving the exhibition, visitors are invited to draw faces on pieces of paper to share their experience of the show.