When I was little I believed that if I looked
at something long enough I could make it
Though the more I looked, the less eyes
understood the thing, so then I knew I’s are
There is no I or land.invision. Someone
once said memory is the fourth dimension
of any landscape so we insist in this space
even if we’re not allowed PTSD as we are
too present without name. Soul; there’s
nothing and they still jealous. Freud had
said the Irish race are immune to analysis
because they exist in the dreamworld
already. This was never officially cited.
All the registers merge in
Painting is the Queens English, a
Superimposition; all those events
compacted. Solid. Barging through the
Mark my body, mark the words despite
they slip. This is drawing.
They can be a minimum with sweet intent.
Maybe someone can see them.
–Mandy El-Sayegh notes, 2022
Lehmann Maupin presents Mandy El-Sayegh’s Still, evident (notes on dreams), the artist’s first solo exhibition in Palm Beach. Featuring a new series that explores landscape and dream logic, the exhibition draws on poetics while probing its perverse structures. Distilling memory and cultural history into iridescent archives, El-Sayegh’s blushing horizons give way to lesions and bruises. Dreams become channels for painting, as does the sky for palette.
The exhibition begins with a set of framed drawings hung over a skin of unstretched paintings. Part of El-Sayegh’s White Grounds series, this installation is composed of repurposed fragments that act as projection screens for desire. The drawings depict the artist’s recurring childhood dreams, which she likens to screen memories: infantile recollections used to conceal emotional experiences. El-Sayegh’s drawings leave sensory traces of such memories, veiled in a complex visual language. She becomes a dreamkeeper, weaving symbols into narrative, laid bare to disentangle, as the nonsensical becomes a vessel for her wishes.
In contrast, El-Sayegh’s landscape paintings point to a tradition of historical legibility. Drawing on the seascapes of British painter J.M.W. Turner, the pieces are rooted in the Romantic tradition of landscape painting, which celebrates the painter as an emotional ethnographer. Yet as poetics is charged with representing the social and natural world, it also abstracts painful historical ruptures and becomes a legitimized structure to express violence. El-Sayegh’s works lay bare such fissures; her skylines mirror reclining bodies, sleeping or lifeless, while her hand-painted horizons conceal fragments of forensic pathology books, newspaper headlines, and sex manuals. Disconnected from their original sources, cultural artifacts become depleted of meaning. Mapping memories, landscapes and dreams, El-Sayegh’s works become more than pastoral musings. They sediment language and material into a politics of emotion–a praxis of psychic and cultural exploration.
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