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Meet The French-Algerian Gallerist Who Is Putting The Spotlight On Middle Eastern Art

Sabrina Amrani

Vogue Arabia checks in with French-Algerian gallerist Sabrina Amrani, after her ARCO participation – the annual international contemporary art fair in Madrid, where she is based. This year, Amrani had not one but two booths at the exhibit, that attracts much attention, including from the prime minister of Spain, Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón who visited one of the gallerist’s booths during the fair.

The gallerist recently opened a second gallery, 600 sqm in size, that she inaugurated with new work by Saudi artist Manal alDowayan.

Installation Views of Exhibition ‘Watch Before You Fall’ by Manal AlDowayan at Sabrina Amrani’s New Gallery Space. Courtesy of Sabrina Amrani Gallery.

New year, new space, new work! What made you open another gallery?
We have recently opened another space as our artists were growing very fast and we had to grow with them to offer them a better platform and space.

ARCO Installation view of General sector: Booth 9D03. Joël Andrianomearisoa, The Labyrinth of Passions & Les Horizons Complexes (de l’Amour et d’une romance)

You’re always moving and taking it up a notch. Any surprises in store?
We are very excited to participate this year at the encounters sector of Art Basel in Hong Kong, presenting a massive 140 sqm installation by Joël Andrianomearisoa, who will participate in the Venice Biennale. We are also very excited to present our new artist, Alexandra Karakashian, and new program in both spaces. We are working on a new museum show with artist Waqas Khan, at the cutting-edge National Museum MUSAC in Leon, Spain.

ARCO Installation view of General sector: Booth 9D03. Works by Timothy Hyunsoo Lee, Mitosis (finding the light) And Joël Andrianomearisoa.

We are also proud to announce that the Victoria and Albert Museum in London just acquired a textile work and sketches by late artist Chant Avedissian, well-known for his Cairo stencils. It is especially important to us as we have been working the last three years with the artist to acknowledge his complete practice, that started in the late Seventies with different mediums as photography, textiles, and other works yet to be showcased.

How was ARCO? What was it like being in the fair this year?
ARCO is one of the most important fairs in the calendar for us; it is our hometown and it is a very big fair, very well attended by professionals and important collectors. Every year we have a big booth in ARCO, and this year we had two of them: one in the General Sector of the fair presenting half of our roster, and a Special Project by Waqas Khan.

ARCO Installation View of Special Project Booth 9A02. Presenting Works By Waqas Khan.

One booth, in sharp contrast with the other, looked very minimal at first sight. Can you give us some insight on this special project?
Our booth was enigmatic at first sight. We showed a new body of work by well-known Pakistani artist Waqas Khan, with its famous intricate drawings on Wasli paper: white ink on white paper. The subtleness of this presentation requested from the visitors to literally detain and take the time to observe: otherwise the drawing will not reveal itself. It is an invitation to contemplate; that, within the current culture of the instant and within the context of an art fair, is a bold statement!

I Am An Architect by Manal alDowayan. Courtesy Sabrina Amrani Gallery.

How did you choose the artist to inaugurate your new gallery?
We started working with Manal alDowayan in 2016 and since then we’ve only had a solo exhibition with her. We really wanted to host an exhibition of brand-new works by Manal and the inauguration of the new space was the perfect moment. We also wanted to inaugurate the space with an artist from the Middle East, as a statement from the gallery: in this last seven years the gallery has changed and evolved, but we do not forget where we come from.

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