Mandy El-Sayegh; A Focus in Painting at Thaddaeus Ropac London Ely House (2020)

A Focus on Painting Mandy El–Sayegh

12 September—21 October 2020
London Ely House

A Focus on Painting

Curated by Julia Peyton-Jones

There has been a recent upsurge of exhibitions focusing on artists for whom painting is their preferred medium and this show presents the work of four painters, both established and emerging, who explore the medium in different ways. With materials ranging from yarn to newsprint to poured colour, the processes these artists use and the forms of their final works are compellingly diverse. Mandy El-Sayegh and Rachel Jones explore what appears to be abstraction, however at its core is an investigation of the human body and the formation of identity, while Alvaro Barrington and Dona Nelson play with form and materials not usually associated with painting.

London-based Mandy El-Sayegh (b. 1985, Selangor, Malaysia) had her first institutional solo show, the specially commissioned installation Cite Your Sources, at London’s Chisenhale Gallery last year. She was shortlisted for the biannual Max Mara Art Prize for Women in collaboration with the Whitechapel Gallery, London in 2017.

The artist will present an immersive installation featuring monumental paintings and assemblage, transforming the gallery's interior space through direct interventions to the walls and floor. Born in Malaysia to Chinese and Palestinian parents, El-Sayegh’s practice explores the constant flux of meaning, constructed through the production and circulation of images or texts and their subjective interpretation, with a focus on trauma and the body.

Combining found fragments with imagery and text, including pages from the Financial Times and hand-painted gestures or calligraphy borrowed from her father’s artistic practice, El-Sayegh creates fleshy, visceral works that reconfigure seemingly abstract elements into a unified whole. In her Net-grid paintings, the artist overlays silkscreen prints combining personal memorabilia, found objects and linguistic elements with hand-painted grids to consider the potential proliferation of materials and information, as well as the structures that contain them.

Plastering newspapers across the gallery walls and floor, bound between layers of latex, El-Sayegh highlights the processes through which meanings become internalised and fragmented: removed from their original contexts, the texts are reduced to a series of signifiers, taking on new narrative functions beyond their primary intent.

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