The work of Adel Abdessemed (born 1971) navigates between free drawing, a dialogue with poetry, and an engagement through forms with the challenges of our world. The many institutions where his work has been exhibited include the 2007 Lyon Biennale, the Havana Biennale, the São Paulo Biennale, three Venice Biennales (1997, 2003, and 2015). He has had exhibitions at the PS1/MoMA, the MIT List Art Center, and the French Musée National d’Art Moderne – Centre Georges Pompidou. In 2015, his piece Nymphéas shared the opening room of Okwui Enwezor’s Venice Biennale with Bruce Nauman. In 2016, he was invited to the Avignon Festival with the exhibition and publication Surfaces. And the same year, his piece Bristow was commissioned by Bold Tendencies in London; it is also due to become a book to be edited by Hannah Barry, Donatien Grau and Hans Ulrich Obrist. A three-volume survey entitled Works, published by Walther König, also appeared in 2016, with contributions by eminent thinkers and theoreticians. In October he took part in the Miracle Marathon at the Serpentine Galleries, in conversation with Edna O’Brien.
For his exhibition entitled ‘Politics of Drawing’ at Cahiers d’Art, Adel Abdessemed has created three editions: Hibou (‘Owl’), Cerf (‘Stag’), and Pigeon. These works – Hibou, an edition of eighteen, and Cerf and Pigeon, both editions of three – begin with the image of these animals which Abdessemed describes as ‘distant brothers’. After transferring them onto the paper with charcoal, he transforms them again through the printing process. They play on the effect of scale, going from over two metres (Cerf and Pigeon) to Hibou, which is over a metre high. They all share the space of the gallery in the rue du Dragon. As Abdessemed said about Cerf, ‘I think I have met the stag in the depths of the night while walking in the forest…’ We find ourselves here in the middle of what he calls ‘inevitable presences, represented without any intention to exorcise them, but rather to exalt them…’
The exhibition also includes a series of original drawings by the artist entitled Exil. The series develops a motif that entered his artistic language in 1995 with his neon of the same name. A poem has been specially written for this exhibition by Adonis, a poet with whom Adel Abdessemed has already made an artist’s book entitled Le Livre des AA (Yvon Lambert, 2015), as well as a book of correspondence, La peau du chaos (Actes Sud, 2015. The poem is called L’océan du réel (‘The Ocean of Reality’) and will be presented for the first time at the gallery.
With ‘Politics of Drawing’, the artist has deployed all his virtuosity to invite us to ‘a continual, emotional, spiritual and naked movement for the protection of life’, an interrogation of our humanity and a ‘reflection upon the present state of the world’. The drawings are therefore presented ‘not as fixed reflections, but in movement…’
To accompany the exhibition, the Cahiers d’Art revue will feature an essay by Daniel Birnbaum (Moderna Museet, Stockholm) on the work of Adel Abdessemed.