Exhibition “Eyes Recently Seen” by Basir Mahmood

The opening of a new solo exhibition by the artist Basir Mahmood “Eyes Recently Seen” was held at Letitia Gallery in the presence of H.E. Mr. Najeeb Durrani, ambassador of Pakistan and the artist who came to Lebanon specially for this occasion.

Curated by Lauren Wetmore, the exhibition presents new and existing photographic and video works which reveal the distinctive processes by which the artist recreates his own visual experiences. Fascinated by the structures of daily life – labour, hierarchy, distribution and identity – Mahmood’s photographs and videos occupy a space between staged scenes and spontaneous documentation.

In Eyes Recently Seen, works from the past five years of Mahmood’s practice – including meditations on fishermen (Message to the Sea, 2012) and blessed water (Holy water from Mecca, 2015) – are shown together with new pieces that investigate communal human consumption. Taken together, the works demonstrate the artist’s position in relation to the various social structures which they reflect.

For the new works in the exhibition, including Milk (2018) and All Good Things (2018), Mahmood composed the activity of individuals from various occupations, including day-laborers and milk sellers, in a Lahore film studio. The participants were invited to enact their vocations, to explore the nuances of human interaction.

The new diptych, All Divided Equally (2018), continues Mahmood’s fascination with the societal division of resources by depicting an abundance of food, each item cut exactly in half to create a multitude of diptychs. The resulting tableaux considers the outcome of equality in distribution.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue.

Basir Mahmood said: “I am interested in exploring my position as an artist by adopting multiple roles including: as an author who writes narratives; an initiator who sets in motion collisions of people and improvised scenarios to create original stories; as an observer who teleports in or out of the everyday situations he is observing to see intimately from within and from without; and as a withdrawn subject, for example as a disengaged onlooker on a main street.”

Lauren Wetmore, curator of the exhibition commented: “Many themes from Basir Mahmood’s work will be relevant to the Beirut context, from picturing an interdependent relationship between humans and the sea to exploring the societal position of so-called ‘unskilled’ laborers. Basir’s work brings an array of contexts and themes in sharp focus through his process – the way he allows us to transcend the distinction between how an artist sees the world versus how the world is seen.”

About the artist, Basir Mahmood

Basir Mahmood (b. 1985 Lahore, Pakistan) reflects on the social and historical terrain of the ordinary, using photography and video to create poetic sequences characterized by closely observed individuals, objects and rituals. Most recently, Mahmood participated in the 10th Berlin Biennale: We Don’t Need Another Hero (Berlin, 2018) and completed the Rijksakademie residency program (Amsterdam, 2016-2017). His work has shown in exhibitions internationally, including Contour Biennale 8 (Mechelen, 2017); The Abraaj Group Art Prize: Syntax and Society (Dubai, 2016); Time of Others at the Museum of Contemporary Art (Tokyo, 2015); Sharjah Biennial 11 (Sharjah, 2013); and The Garden of Eden at Palais de Tokyo (Paris, 2012). Mahmood studied at the Beaconhouse National University (Lahore) and completed a 2011 fellowship at Akademie Schloss Solitude (Stuttgart). Basir Mahmood is currently based between Amsterdam and Lahore.

About the curator, Lauren Wetmore

Lauren Wetmore is a curator and writer based in Brussels. She has contributed to exhibitions, biennials and commissions internationally, including Frieze Projects (London, 2014 and 2015); the 2013 Carnegie International (Pittsburgh); and Meeting Points 8 at the Beirut Art Center (2017), La Loge (Brussels, 2016) and the Windsor Hotel (Cairo, 2016). She has also held positions at The Banff Centre, Barbican Art Gallery and her project The Conversation won the Encura curatorial residency at Fundació AAVC Hangar (Barcelona, 2015). Wetmore is currently co-host and producer of Momus: The Podcast. She was short-listed for the 2016 International Awards for Art Criticism and has contributed to publications including Xavier Cha: abduct (MOCA Cleveland, 2015) and These Are the Tools of the Present: Beirut – Cairo (Sternberg Press, 2017). She holds a MFA in Criticism & Curatorial Practice from OCAD University and a BA in Art History and Gender Studies from the University of British Columbia.

The exhibition runs until Saturday November 3rd at Letitia Gallery, Tour de Saroula Bldg., Hamra

Opening hours:

Monday to Friday from 10:00 am till 6:00 pm

Thursdays from 10:00 am till 9:00 pm

Saturdays from 10:00 am till 3:00 pm

About Letitia Gallery

Letitia Gallery is a contemporary art gallery in Beirut focused on encouraging global engagement with contemporary art in Lebanon through the contextualisation of both local and international artists and their work in the global art environment. Under the direction of Annie Vartivarian, the gallery has a strong ethos of collaboration and has worked closely with leading international curators from around the world to work on a project-focused model that looks to nurture the growth of regional artists from the MENA region as well as showcasing international artists in Lebanon within a programme of four to five exhibitions a year. Letitia Gallery offers both local audiences and international visitors the opportunity to discover international artists and to gain a deeper understanding of the breadth of their practice through public programming that includes: talks, off-site projects, site-specific commissioning and supporting cultural initiatives in Lebanon and the region.


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