Faisal Abdu’Allah & Clive Allen
21 February 1996 to 23 March 1996
A highly innovative and powerful photographic exhibition by two leading young contemporary artists whose primary concern is to culturally centre the black subject.
Abdu’Allah’s and Allen’s work is about their origins; the black man, the black woman and their heredity. Through his work, Abdu’Allah recalls his own history and in doing this, he informs us about the history of civilisation on the African continent many thousands of years ago. Both artists are acutely aware of their own traditions and compare them to that of Europe. Through their experiences and studies in London, they have discovered misconceptions in understanding of black history and set about working in a way that challenges this ethos.
Abdu’Allah is a writer, artist and printer and his work is aimed at challenging our passivity toward accepted imagery. He says: “We exist without knowing or even caring for a part of our fellow man and what I do is to get hold of us and shake our complancencies about my race – the Nubians.”
Abdu’Allah and Allen are able to stimulate our senses by presenting us with everyday contexts. They do this by utilising a variety of visual means – photographs, sculptures, text and mirrors. They also use music and historical figures in the same way. They take us on a journey. In Allen’s own words: “A journey which then becomes the anecdote (or celebration) for us to understand the Nubian aesthetic, the kind of aesthetic which is poignant in all of our creations.”
These two artists’ representations of human figures centre around the notions of power and presence that redefine and push the boundaries of what is understood by the term portraiture.