Malamih – Faces, Phantoms, Expressions

Malamih – Faces, Phantoms, Expressions

Date: Tuesday 23 Feb, 2021 - Tuesday 31 Aug, 2021
Time: 10:00 a.m. - 08:00 p.m.
Venue: Maraya Art Centre, Al Qasba, Block (E), Third Floor (Maraya Art Gallery) Sharjah, United Arab Emirates


Known for her award winning films and work as a poet, artist and scriptwriter, Nujoom Alghanem showcases here, for the very first time, a body of work within the visual arts that she has been creating since 2016. 

Faces deals with the artist’s perception of the human face and its expression-based qualities. Sometimes eerie, comical, pensive but always intense, the brightly coloured faces stare back at the beholder with an unsettling aura that remains mysterious. Individuals have been at the center of attention in Nujoom Alghanem’s entire career – the artist enjoys engaging with people, hearing their stories, studying their expressions that she absorbs in her very own personal introspection. United by the overtly melancholic, sad and almost depressed emotional states, the faces seem to be characters having witnessed particular moments of crisis and their appearances reflect on these. They are also strongly influenced by the artist’s interest in spirits in different cultures and the ambient sounds of whispers filling the gallery space underlines this. 

In the third floor of Maraya Art Centre, the visitor is confronted with a tightly arranged, St. Petersburg-style hanging of faces mainly on canvas that have various formats – from small to large, rectangular, square, oval and circular shaped formats, this army of faces fully engulfs viewers and invites them to take it all in while sitting in the center of the room, thereby also becoming part of it - mirroring themselves in the faces and using the suspended frames to see themselves in others. 

The exhibition continues in the second floor of Maraya Art Centre, in which several more materials that the artist has experimented with are shown. Visitors are invited to exit the top gallery through the staircase that has been populated with faces on burlap and jute – the very first material that the artist used to create this new body of work. 

Further explorations in different materials of the artist Nujoom Alghanem’s body of work Faces are showcased in the second floor of Maraya Art Centre. Here, the viewer will see a hanging array of chopping boards that have faces painted on them, reminiscent of pieces of meat hanging in a butcher’s shop. Adding to this haunting atmosphere, two dark rooms offer an insight into the artist’s work on faces with fluorescent light as well as digitally animated faces inspired by the realm of selfie-culture that speak to the viewers.

At the far end of the gallery, a winding string of ceramic, concrete and resin-based works encompass the viewer and show the variety of industrial objects and materials that the artist has experimented with to create these individual expressions. An adjacent Artist’s Room is the most dynamic and purposefully openly held room of all. In here, the artist will carry out alterations to the room over the course of the coming months, by painting on the walls, adding objects and displaying new work, thus giving it a different appearance at times, to illustrate the changing nature of the project, but also the change that life itself is always subjected to.

When exiting the gallery space, viewers are invited to share their impressions and thoughts on the Faces on papers that can be attached to a magnetic board.