Exotic Transfigurations

10 March '10

By Sehr Sarwar

The meeting rooms on the first floor of the Arab British Centre that our valued trustees are used to seeing every so often at the bi-monthly board meetings has been totally transformed this month for South Yemen born, British artist Sousan Luqman’s “Exotic Transfigurations” exhibition. Up until the 31st March 2010, the heavy wooden tables and chairs have been cleared out to make way for Sousan’s mystical exhibit featuring 11 representations that fuse together the ideas of the 1001 Arabian Nights, Islamic geometry and 19th century European Orientalist art.

The dimly lit space, filled with the zesty aromas of tabbouleh being served throughout the evening was accompanied by atmospheric Arabian belly dancing music that ensured all the guests at the private viewing stayed till closing time. Guests were happy to have Sousan in attendance to find out more about her other work and probe her for answers on how she created her marvellous “Transfigured” series. The work is all about transfiguring the notions of femininity and attempts to demystify traditional concepts of the Middle Eastern or Islamic woman both historically and metaphorically. As you can see from the photograph, Sousan starts with a Western Orientalist painting, but modifies the silhouette of the naked female by intricately cutting out the shapes of Islamic geometric designs over her body. This feature is exemplified through the use of a light behind the painting to create maximum focus on the female form, which also makes the piece suitable for display at home as a decorative light.

exotic_transfigurations“Scheherazade’s Enigma” is the installation that I was immediately drawn towards and was myself quite mystified by! Cleverly, the text of 1001 Arabian Nights is overlaid onto a carpet that has the hypnotising images of a belly dancer projected over it to produce a mesmerizing audio-visual experience.

For those keen to read up on the roots of Orientalism, Sousan has very carefully selected books that inspired her work and has displayed them at the entrance to the space that adds a scholarly dimension to the exhibition. Tranversing cultures of East and West, Sousan’s art installation represents the different views that were held of the Middle Eastern woman in society, not only in the past but also those that continue to exist to this day.

The pieces are all for sale and can also be replicated by the artist in smaller sized prints by request. Feel free to read up more about Sousan Luqman’s work on her website www.sousanluqman.co.uk

The exhibition runs up until March 31st, 2010 but will be replaced by an exciting new show soon after. Click here for more information.

The Arab British Centre are also inviting applications for exhibitions. Please contact us on 02078321310 or info@arabbritishcentre.org.uk for more information or an application form. The deadline for submission of applications is Friday 19 March 2010