June 23 – August 18, 2023
Photo credit :Arsenal Contemporary Art New York is pleased to present the first solo exhibition of Montreal-based artist Muriel Ahmarani Jaouich in the United States. In her work, the Canadian painter draws from her mixed heritage, being born to parents of Egyptian and Lebanese descent who are themselves children of Armenian refugees. The artist explores generational trauma, and the cultural and emotional wounds that are passed down. Working directly from her genealogy through old photographs, but also oral accounts provided by relatives, the artist explores and tries to grasp where she comes from, tracing her family’s journey through inhospitable grounds, rife with racial and ethnic discrimination. Her work is about what is left behind after exile and displacement, and what is carried through this rupture. It is about the unspoken and the unspeakable. But above all else, Ahmarani Jaouich’s work is an everlasting testament of love to her parents and her ancestors.
In her work, she traverses depths of emotion, identity and spirituality to represent feelings of longing and belonging. In this way, the exhibition opens up a space for everyone to connect with their own cultural roots, encouraging us to reflect on the ways in which our identities have been shaped by the places we call home, by the places our parents have called home.
Ahmarani Jaouich works intuitively, letting symbols and images come to her naturally during long meditation sessions to which she subscribes daily. Over the years, a glossary has emerged, symbols and figures that recur throughout her paintings. Such is the case of snakes, of fez, this traditional Turkish headcover, but also the pala bıyık, a handlebar moustache associated with the Ottomans, and many Egyptian figures. All of these function as symbolic participants in her artistic process. She threads history, memory, and emotions into alluring compositions of saccharine hues that act as channels towards her own practice of healing and remembrance. Through her expressive brushstrokes, evocative symbolism, and delicate use of color, she delivers a personal account that reverberates across generations.