"I couldn't invent a color that was uniquely mine, so I started working with materials that no one wanted."
- Abdul Rahman Katanani
With this new solo exhibition at Danysz Gallery, the second since "Hard Core" in 2018, Abdul Rahman Katanani continues his exploration of the world using his favorite materials: corrugated iron, barbed wire, recycled oil barrels, which the artist purposely takes from his everyday environment: "I like to use materials that are shaped by human experiences, I find that it adds values and questioning that lead us to think and consider things differently. " With these raw materials, this time the artist evokes figures of children absorbed in their games, in the middle of swarms of birds that could well be carrier pigeons. Moments of creative freedom on which the oil business casts a shadow, both figuratively and literally.
This figure of a playing child allows the artist to make an allegory of life itself, following the example of Nietzsche who speaks of it thus in the first speech he lends to his prophet Zarathustra: " Why must the preying lion still become a child? The child is innocence and forgetting, a new beginning, a game, a self-propelled wheel, a first motion."(Thus Spoke Zarathustra, "TheThree Metamorphoses"). The figures of playful children appear in Katanani's early work in the late 2000s. They play all sorts of games, which are like an inexhaustible inventory of activities that a child can engage in on the streets: hoop, ribbon, skipping, kite, sack race, ball, etc. An open-ended series that are still in progress to this day
Why this recurring interest in play for Katanani? Play can also refer to a space, as when we say that a door or a window has "play". Play is that space of freedom and creativity that allows us to apprehend the world, the tensions that organize it and the forces that run through it. A place to reinvent and appropriate the world. These figurative works should not be dissociated from the artist's other productions, sometimes more abstract and less narrative (circles, spirals, carpets or waves). In the whole of his work, it is indeed the same mechanism which is at work: symbolism and allegory.
There is no place in these compositions for a nostalgic vision of childhood, which, from our adult perspective, would be like a lost paradise, a golden age where everything was necessarily simpler and lustre. These playful children do not enlighten us as a bygone moment but as a moment to strive for: the child is no longer what we have left, but on the contrary what we should reach. A resolutely confident vision of the future, opsing any fatalism or determinism, is what Abdul Rahman Katanani invites us to do here.
Abdul Rahman Katanani was born in 1983 in the Palestinian refugee camp of Sabra, Lebanon. He holds a Master's degree from the Beirut School of Fine Arts. In 2009, he was awarded the Young Artists prize at the Salon d'Automne organized by the Sursock Museum in Beirut. His work has been presented in many institutions around the world, such as the Abu Dhabi Biennial, the Royal College of London, the Boghossian Foundation in Brussels, the Cité Internationale des Arts and the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris. Abdul Rahman Katanani is currently on show in the 2021 Art Season of the Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire, for which he has created an in situ installation in the park of the Domaine. His works are present in public (Mathaf, Doha) and private collections.