Alia Ahmad's من الحلم .. . روضة (A meadow... from a dream) | Jinbin Chen: Returnees

1227 North Highland Ave Los Angeles, CA 90038
Nov 05, 6 PM - 9 PM — ends Jan 27, 2023
Ahmad's large-scale paintings pay tribute to her home, the industrial city of Riyadh. Her excavations of time, place and memory transpose meticulous, vibrant color palettes into abstracted landscapes.

With subdued, washed out lines, she situates a series of calligraphic motifs across a number of canvases, recalling in part Lee Ufan's collisional works between the natural and industrial, Joan Mitchell's abstracted landscapes and Vincent Van Gogh's expressive brushstrokes. Ahmad strives to balance the inherent readability of her work with the internal translation that occurs when someone is brought into her colorful world. "In Arabic, riyadh translates to 'oasis within a desert'", Ahmad explains, "My intention is to illuminate that there is a lot of life from a land that is perceived as dry."

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In Returnees, Chen builds on themes of encounter and desire through portraiture of fragmented bodies or subjects rooted in anonymity. Building on the artist’s intention to create desire from the everyday, Chen’s paintings utilize soft color to blend and romanticize the gap between the ideal and the past.

Chen uncovers a language of intimacy that excludes the sexually explicit, and rather, paints his own vocabulary of desire: a vernacular that absorbs a viewer’s gaze. In his portraiture, the masculine traverses a terrain of liminal gender dispositions and attaches layers of meaning relating to objectification, fetishism and intimacy. Other references in his process are derived from photographs of friends taken out of context and painted into a state between subject and object. This idea of inbetweeness carries over into his depictions of hands, feet, and sexual organs, all objectified to present an aspect of time. Chen describes this as “the time you spend looking at, interacting with the image. There is a time and an intimacy that approaches something almost erotic.”