ZIKR

Lola Sementsova
Shawki Youssef

October 14, 2021

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November 6, 2021

“Zikr”, deriving from Arabic, literally meaning "remembrance”, refers to the memory of something existentially substantial. In Islam it refers to a ritual of repetitively mentioning God’s name in order to achieve higher spiritual levels, in Sufi-Islam ritualized music and dance in designated places make up for an integral part.

Zikr is a conscious way of willingly recollecting a memory of what or who we long for, expressing that it does not exist within our present and physical reach, consequently suggesting that the only means to recollect its reality is through our will to remember. 

Zikr, therefore, also allows us to not forget what we should positively praise, probably because it shaped us, out of Love and admiration, may this be related to an individual, collective or socio-cultural context. A person may, with it, experience the spiritual fulfilment of gratefulness and, outside the act of remembering, the emptiness or potentially psychological pain caused by the lack of the tangible existence of the subject of Zikr.

Zikr, the title of the cooperative exhibition at Beirut Contemporary of Lola Sementsova, a young mixed media artist from Moscow, Russia, living and working in Lisbon, Portugal and Shawki Youssef, an established artist living and working in Beirut, Lebanon, is taking up the ritualistic way of remembering by means of sculpture and painting.

Lola Sementsova’s piece سجادة [saˈd͡ʒad̪ah] (carpet) is a sculpture consisting of woven carpet, burnt wood, ceramics and wool spurting out from the center of the artwork. Originally concepted as part of the installation “Zeeba”, set in a retired convent chapel, the carpet was siding a ceramic sculpture of a human silhouette, the shape in turn being faced with calligraphy on top of an altar-like setting, while the floor, on which the installation was set, the darkened space was covered with black coal. The installation is a remembrance of the artist’s mother, offering the safety and warmth of home, who passed away in Iraq while following a work assignment.   

Skawki Youssef converses with Lola Sementsova’s artwork through acrylic paint on paper with calligraphic expression of ‘Zikr’, as if to add soothing layers of compassion over the wounds the carpet displays, as if to make a human counter-statement to uncontained violence, may this be an individual or cultural phenomenon, physical or mental, a statement of loving generosity and kindness opposing un-reflected dogmatism. Shawki Youssef’s compositions of Zikr are reflecting the lines of the carpet and extending them in softer shades of blue, yellow and green, offering an emotional breathing space in confrontation with the stark red of Lola Sementova’s exhibit.  

The exhibition is to inspire us to recollect our true human core in view of progressing polarization, bias, misconception of cultural heritage as a means to navigate through the complexity of socio-political interaction.