April 10 – May 22, 2021
Curator Mark Steven Greenfield
Artists Dina Abdulkarim, Doris Bittar, and Joyce Dallal
Opening Saturday, April 10, 12-7pm
open house style, no RSVP required
Panel Discussion Saturday, April 24, 2021, 2-4pm
on Zoom, moderated by Mark Steven Greenfield
Closing Saturday, May 22, 2021, 11am-4pm
open house style, no RSVP required
SoLA Contemporary’s upcoming exhibition mash is an architecturally inspired collection, curated by esteemed LA-based artist and curator Mark Steven Greenfield, that draws on design elements whose origins can be found in the Middle East — a region of the world often portrayed through a reductive or biased lens. mash thoughtfully challenges mainstream stereotypes of the Middle East by portraying Arabesque architecture as a gateway to sacred spaces and spiritual experiences.
Architectural elements such as windows, roofs, and the very notion of a home are reimagined through the eyes of three different artists. By re-contextualizing traditional architectural design in a contemporary fashion, artists Dina Abdulkarim, Joyce Dallal, and Doris Bittar convey a message that is both deeply historical and socially relevant. Their art reflects the unique sentiments and lived-experiences that provide a window into another world — an opportunity for empathy.
“The artists all have a decidedly contemporary take on design motifs associated with the Middle East — infusing their work with a respect for tradition, while at the same time pressing against its long-held boundaries,” says Greenfield.
The interplay between tradition and experimentation, old versus new, and East versus West, is a vital theme throughout this show. Greenfield emphasizes, however, that these dichotomies are not always at odds with one another. Rather, they exist in a state of constant conversation — mixing, influencing, and transforming one another — producing artwork that is thought-provoking and new.
Curator’s Statement, Mark Steven Greenfield 3/21
The concept for this exhibition was rooted in my deep appreciation for architectural design elements common to the Middle East. For many occidentals the elaborate designs and intricate patterns are merely seen as decorative markers of culture, but I’ve always regarded them as a kind of sacred geometry with the power to direct one’s consciousness toward the contemplative. Not the least of these elements is Mashrabiya, the carved wooden latticework window treatment sometimes located on the upper floor of street facing buildings throughout the Islamic world. For my purposes I’ve abbreviated it to “MASH”, to both give a nod to, and at the same time, deviate from the traditional. The works of Dina Abdulkarim, Doris Bittar, and Joyce Dallal, seemed to fit neatly into this narrative, and I am deeply honored to be working with them.
Each of these artists have been able to strike a bargain between aesthetic logic and cultural imperatives, with decidedly diverse and uncommon results. The absence of human figures in these works, a canon of the Islamic art, invites the enlightened viewer to engage with the work’s spiritual aspects. The work compels the viewer to surrender to its benevolent mathematics in a manner as effortless as meditation, and as with any deep thinking, the often-understated political context nudges you from its comfortable place just below the surface. It is the unknown that exists under the surface that is as intriguing to me as what is behind Mashrabiya. Those on the inside of the screen have the ability to see the outside world through the imposed order that informs their individual artistic practice, while those on the outside have the good fortune to see the shadows. The importance of the shadows cannot be understated however, for it is the place where our possibilities, dreams and aspirations reside.