Put it in a Tin | My City-Wall | Zena Assi
Zena Assi moved from Lebanon to the UK in 2014. These series include her latest artworks produced in her London studio. The artworks draw inspiration from the emotional, social and cultural baggage we carry with us when we move from an environment to another. Facing a new culture makes you question your own. It tackles the identity issue and all the conflicts we are facing when we are rewriting our own story and narrative from tainted memories.
"Put it in a Starbucks Coffee Cup", Zena Assi, 2017, Mixed Media on Canvas, 150x150 cm. ©Zena Assi. Courtesy of artsawa.
"Put it in a Twinings Queen's Mary Tea Tin", Zena Assi, 2017, Mixed Media on Canvas, 150x150 cm. ©Zena Assi. Courtesy of artsawa.
The first series, ‘PUT IT IN A TIN’, is a collection of big bouquets’ paintings. The canvas itself is treated as a carpet, laid on the floor for months and months. It witnesses footsteps and dust, used as a draft of rough ideas, a palette cleaner or a coffee holder... When time takes its hold on it, Zena stretches the canvas on a wooden frame and images start to appear through the layers of paint, like shadowy memories emerging from the past. The canvas, now, has its own story to tell and she only has to outline its imageries to be visible to the naked eye. Finally, Zena takes this bouquet and does what her grandmother did before her, and her mother before her, she puts it in a tin, so that the iron would sink into the soil and make the plants grow even stronger…
"City Wall 1&2", Zena Assi, 2016, Mixed Media on Canvas, 220x180 cm (each). ©Zena Assi. Courtesy of artsawa.
The second series, ‘MY CITY-WALL’, reflects the relations and conflicts between the refugees/migrants and the cities they are aiming to get to. Through her work, for more than a decade now, she has been trying to visually translate the city life of our modern society. Zena believes that the structures we build, the architecture language we adopt, and the borders we draw, are all witnesses of our ideologies in one moment in time. They are the dialect history uses to write itself with. And now, unfortunately, we are witnessing the rise of walls again…
The exhibition coincides with Zena’s participation at the 57th Venice Biennale | Grenada Pavilion, where she is showcasing works from the series ‘My City-Wall’, ‘Flies on the Wall’, and ‘Chronicles of a Migrant’.