Curated by Dr. Bahaa Abudaya, a scholar of modern and contemporary Arab art, After Denudation highlights new paintings by the artist that take microscopic images of sand as a starting point for a reconsideration of spatial identity and the natural and man-made phenomena that shape it. Continuing his exploration of abstraction as a means of recording reality, specifically shifts in space
After Denudation 7, 2016, acrylic on raw linen, 188 x 208 cm
￼and time, Athier also places an emphasis on form in his latest body of work, using the physical characteristics and structure of the canvas as visual devices.
Fascinated by the rapid growth and development that have transformed the Gulf, Athier takes the urban development of desert terrains as the basis for a detailed investigation of the intricate workings of nature, particularly its inbuilt system of generation, erosion, and replenishment. The artist’s latest series contrasts the natural processes that occur in the formation of these environments with the ongoing expansion of cities.
In the context of Athier’s works, the concept of denudation denotes the damage to timeless landscapes that has resulted from massive building projects. His compositions suggest that as the natural cycle of the desert has been disrupted, however, there is hidden structure within the sand — the very nothingness itself — that is revealed, showing intricacy and design when magnified. The artist depicts forms inspired by these sand particles alongside the abstracted debris of formed cityscapes, what he refers to as ‘the organic versus the mechanical,’ in riotous asymmetrical compositions. In doing so, he offers an alternative view of desert sprawl, as the efforts of humankind have yet to achieve the splendour of nature. The unusual shapes of his raw linen canvases encourage these scenes to explode into space, as the beauty and power of sand — something so unassuming — remains uninhibited.