Mandy El Sayegh – Abstraction VS Representation

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12 April – 9 June 2019 @Chisenhale Gallery

Mandy El Sayegh deserves to be mentioned – although the artist’s solo show at the Chisenhale Gallery ended last week. The 1985 Malaysian artist tries to make sense of her personal experiences through the use of a duality between meanings and contents. You can spot the deceitful double reference from the entrance, within the title – “Cite Your Sources”. It is a referential memory of her teacher at the Royal College of Arts, but also an obscure intimate claim – as if she needed us to become sleuths, informed of these multiple layers. Large-scale portraits and distant materials like paper and latex are left meticulously contaminating the scene. It looks like a crime setting where the observer with his private eye retraces the dynamics of the incident – through the analysis of the more disparate elements.

Mandy tries to establish her identity by moving between spheres that connect language and material, where everything has an explanation that goes beyond everyday life. The gallery’s walls, affected by these weird phenomena, are covered with pages from the Financial Times: they overlay the whole surface and the floor, grouped in images and phrases that belong and have said by different people.  Her father and his calligraphy are included too.

It seems like a geographical and cultural journey that she leads us to, that which we get to know through our forensic work.  We perhaps lose ourselves to find Mandy’s story among materials that overlap in so many stratums, without apparent logic.  The words get interpreted according to contexts; we perceive them as bodies, trapped in history and reinterpreting the ordinary.