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.
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Merging the Layers is an evening of audio and moving image works which explore the perceived hierarchies of art forms, devised by ChisenhaleHz in response to Mandy El-Sayegh’s new commission. Programmed in association with First Thursdays, when galleries across east London stay open until 9pm on the first Thursday of each month.
ChisenhaleHz is a collective of young people who meet regularly at Chisenhale Gallery. Using ideas and themes raised through the gallery’s 2019 Commissions Programme, the group will present a series of public events throughout the year. Following the first meeting, the group collectively decided on the name ChisenhaleHz, which reflects the multiple frequencies and voices brought together in the group.
This event is free to attend but booking is recommended. To reserve a place please visit our Eventbrite page here.
Grrrl Zine Fair lead a workshop in zine-making and drawing for children aged 5 – 11 years, and their parents or carers, in response to Mandy El-Sayegh’s new commission. Grrrl Zine Fair is a collaborative project, which platforms women and non-binary artists, and comprises a self-publishing fair, talks, performances, live music, exhibitions and workshops. This event is free to attend but booking is recommended. To reserve a place please visit our Eventbrite page here.
This workshop is programmed in association with Chisenhale Art Place Open Weekend, when Chisenhale Gallery, Chisenhale Dance Space and Chisenhale Studios open the doors of their shared building for a weekend of open studios, exhibitions, performance and events. For the full programme, please visit the Chisenhale Art Place website: www.chisenhale.co.uk.
Mandy El-Sayegh is joined in conversation with Gareth Longstaff to discuss El-Sayegh’s new commission at Chisenhale Gallery and their shared lines of enquiry. The conversation draws on El-Sayegh's new work and Longstaff's research into psychoanalysis and self-representation, celebrity and image production. Gareth Longstaff is a Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at Newcastle University. To reserve a place please visit our Eventbrite page here.
An early morning viewing of Mandy El-Sayegh’s exhibition, with an introduction by Layla Gatens, Curatorial Assistant, Engagement, at Chisenhale Gallery. Coffee and cakes are generously provided by the East End Women’s Institute. This event is free to attend but booking is recommended. To reserve a place please visit our Eventbrite page here.
Emma Moore, Curator: Engagement at Chisenhale Gallery, gives an introduction to Mandy El-Sayegh’s exhibition. Programmed in association with First Thursdays, when galleries across east London stay open until 9pm on the First Thursday of the month. This event is free to attend but booking is recommended. To reserve a place please visit our Eventbrite page here.