Meem Gallery presents Mantra, the first solo exhibition in the UAE by celebrated Egyptian sculptor, Armen Agop. The artist, based in Italy since 2000, is well known internationally for his black granite sculptures; having exhibited with regularity through Europe, the Arab World and Asia. In this exhibition a series of sculptures are accompanied by Agop’s drawings and paintings, for the first time.
The title of this multidisciplinary exhibition, Mantra, reflects the nature of the work within this series, as physical documentation of a meditative, spiritual practice. Each artwork is undertaken with a focus, a mantra set by the artist, created by a repeated action. Choosing one of the smallest elements, the point, and applying it over and over, Agop seeks to discover its limitless potential and to reach profound experiences.
Through the carving, grinding and perpetual shaping of the material, this ruminative practice is undertaken, in contrast, the drawings and paintings deliver a divergence in concept. In the works on paper and canvas, it is the meditative process itself that unveils the composition through the artist’s mark-making, with the paintings manifesting as a result of the duration of time and rituality.
The paintings have a luminous, ethereal quality. At first glance, they resemble the inherent monumentality of Agop’s sculptural work – large, black expanses of space. Upon closer inspection, the works open up to reveal a collection of points in colourful hues, lightly and purposefully placed upon the canvas, almost cosmic-like in their composition. There is a softness to the works on canvas, in contrast to the hard, strong sculptural works of the same subject matter.