Chisenhale Gallery presents a new commission and first solo exhibition in an institution by London-based artist Mandy El-Sayegh. El-Sayegh’s large-scale paintings, works on paper and object-based installations move between linguistic, material and corporeal registers, often creating double meanings that signal a breakdown in everyday systems and orders.
El-Sayegh’s Chisenhale Gallery exhibition brings together principle elements from an ongoing series of works to explore themes relating to representation, abstraction and subjectivity. Comprising painting, drawing, print and sculpture, Cite Your Sources addresses the process of constructing meaning through the production and circulation of images and materials.
Pages from The Financial Times are applied directly onto areas of the gallery space, disrupting the neutrality of the otherwise white gallery walls. Chosen both for its representation of global finance and for the tone and texture of its pages, El-Sayegh’s sustained use of The Financial Times reflects her interest in the complex interactions between bodies and the political, economic and linguistic structures that contain them. Often overworked with the artist’s own gestures or with samples of her father’s calligraphy in English and Arabic—a daily exercise he calls ‘practice’—the newspaper becomes a surface to explore how words, sometimes made up or chosen by their shape, render meaning arbitrary yet contingent upon their surroundings.
In her series Net-grid (2010 - ongoing), El-Sayegh works with silk-screen print directly onto canvas to create a surface for a layered painting process, overlaid with hand-painted grids. The grid acts as a schematic that attempts to contain the fragmented debris of the words, images and materials that circulate throughout El-Sayegh’s work. In other works, bodies appear in disconnected forms—reproduced from sources ranging from consumer-media and pornography to anatomical textbooks—exploring the construction of the self as fragmentary and incomplete. Central to the exhibition is a series of vitrine works in which objects and images are assembled, mirroring the layered process also visible in El-Sayegh’s paintings. Here, the limits of a surface, or boundary, are highlighted, questioning how acts of categorisation are constructed and upheld.
Through an engagement with materials experienced both underfoot and, on the walls, El-Sayegh’s new commission at Chisenhale Gallery addresses metaphorical connotations of the body; such as the body as a site of resistance and the body of a nation, and how these ideas relate to a multidimensional subjective experience. El-Sayegh’s practice simultaneously explores and rejects the systems that image production and circulation are bound to, questioning how forms and ideas mutate within material strata through repetition and reproduction.
As part of the commissioning process, a series of discursive events have been programmed in collaboration with El-Sayegh and run throughout her exhibition. El-Sayegh’s exhibition continues Chisenhale Gallery’s Commissions Programme for 2019, which includes new commissions by artists Ghislaine Leung, Ima-Abasi Okon and Sidsel Meineche Hansen. Through her work, El-Sayegh explores issues relating to labour, abjection and desire—often producing self-contained systems and complete worlds, themes that recur throughout Chisenhale Gallery’s programme for 2019.
Mandy El-Sayegh (b. 1985, Selangor, Malaysia) lives and works in London, UK. Selected solo exhibitions include: MUTATIONS IN BLUE, WHITE AND RED, Lehmann Maupin, New York; Mandy El-Sayegh: assembled at Tell el Ajjul, The Mistake Room, Guadalajara (both 2018); Figured Ground: Meshworks, Carl Kostyal, London (2017); Taking Part, Galerie Mihai Nicodim, Bucharest (2016); this is a sign, Carlos/Ishikawa, London (2016). Selected group exhibitions include: Ecologies of Darkness. Building Grounds on Shifting Sand, (2019), SAVVY Contemporary, Berlin; Sharjah Biennial 13: Tamawuj, Sharjah (2017); and Room Services, New York Art Book Fair, MoMA PS1, New York (2016). In 2017, El-Sayegh was shortlisted for the Max Mara Art Prize for Women in collaboration with the Whitechapel Gallery, London.
Mandy El-Sayegh’s exhibition at Chisenhale Gallery is commissioned and produced by Chisenhale Gallery.
Mandy El-Sayegh’s commission is produced with support from the Chisenhale Gallery Commissions Fund. El-Sayegh’s exhibition at Chisenhale Gallery is supported by BERTHOLD; the London General Practice; and Joe and Marie Donnelly. With additional support from the Mandy El-Sayegh Supporters’ Circle.
Chisenhale Gallery’s Commissions Programme 2017-19 is supported by the Luma Foundation.
Chisenhale Gallery’s Talks and Events Programme 2019 is supported by Brian Boylan and forms part of Chisenhale Gallery’s Engagement Programme. With additional support from the Engagement Programme Supporters’ Circle.