Hashel Al Lamki

The Cup and the Saucer: an Interview with Hashel Al Lamki

For the occasion of his first institutional solo show, we interviewed Abu Dhabi based artist Hashel Al Lamki
by Claudia Malfitano
March 9, 2020
Claudia Malfitano
Hashel Al Lamki

The Cup and The Saucer” at Warehouse421 is your first major exhibition. What pieces will you present and what is the main core of the show?

Yes, this is my first solo show and I am so excited to have it an arts centre such as Warehouse421. In fact, I honoured to have been given this great opportunity by Warehouse421 and the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation to showcase my work.

The Cup and The Saucer was the result out of a conversation Munira Al Sayegh and I had during one of our Monday meetings. I poured her a cup of tea and asked: “What do you think happens when the cup separates from the saucer?” It was from that conversation where we realised that we ourselves don’t often go into the details to understand unseen moments like those, and it soon became the focal point of our meetings, and the show.

The ideology behind The Cup and The Saucer is around the notion of separation from a unit in order to gain a fuller understanding of yourself and to fit into something of a bigger scale. If you don’t know yourself, you may find it difficult to fit in – so you become a shadow of sorts within a mass identity, which can be quite terrifying. Often, we see people diverging from their purpose in life to fit into the confines of being in a group, regardless of what that group stands for and without fully comprehending what they do. As an artist, I think it is important to know who you are in order to contribute and be a part of honest conversations.

Today’s world is very much centred around globalisation and Americanisation, with a culture of “Who to follow next? Who is everyone else following?”. Whether we like it or not, it’s inevitable, – which is why as individuals, we should do our best to understand it.

The pieces in this exhibition are multidisciplinary and I am excited to showcase the critical thinking present in my craftsmanship. Ranging from a wide range of mediums, there are paintings, both individual and as a group installation; there are also sculptures, video works and a sound piece. These pieces are so incredibly vibrant and they complements the work next to it well, which ultimately creates an opportunity to invite the viewer to explore the collective vs. the individual.

Courtesy of Hashel Al Lakmi and Warehouse421
Courtesy of Hashel Al Lakmi and Warehouse421

You were born in Abu Dhabi. What is your relationship with this city and its fast pace and ever-changing nature?

My practice is very much from here, and it has shaped me to look at a multitude of current issues such as socio-economic dynamics, the observation of cultural phenomena, and the process of asking questions and opening a dialogue for people to participate and be able to contribute to the cultural landscape.

Given the great mix of people in this city, people have always been one of my main interests and I always try to include them in my work! And, it just comes so naturally to me.

I think that’s really where my practice revolves, it’s not just touching on issues from here, but rather the bigger picture. Abu Dhabi is an incredibly fast-paced city and change is the one thing constant but our concerns and issues here are similar to anywhere else in the world –scales or capacities may differ, but the heart is the same.

Abu Dhabi is one of the three cities that influence my work (others being New York and Cairo), and you can see that in The Cup and The Saucer. It’s a home-grown show but it is also one that reflects the world on a bigger scale.

You are one of the founders of Bait 15 in Abu Dhabi with Afra Al Dhaheri and Maitha Abdalla; what was the idea behind the foundation of this space and what is the art scene in Abu Dhabi like from your point of view?

Bait 15, the artist-run studio and gallery space in downtown Abu Dhabi, was created out of our need as artists. At the time, there weren’t any studio spaces or warehouses where we could go and practice our work; everyone just worked from home!

Hence, that’s why Afra Al Dhaheri, Maitha Abdalla and I saw our need for a space to practice, not just for us but one that the community of creatives to gather and discuss current issues.

Courtesy of Hashel Al Lakmi and Warehouse421
Courtesy of Hashel Al Lakmi and Warehouse421

My Art Guides likes to recommend to its readers unique places to visit in each destination, not necessarily connected to contemporary art. In your opinion, what are the absolutely unmissable places, landmarks and spots in Abu Dhabi?

I personally love walking around downtown Abu Dhabi – particularly in the tourist club area as I often feel inspired by what I see and encounter. But sometimes to escape the city, I like to visit the other side of the Abu Dhabi Corniche, and watch the skyline as the sun sets.

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