“In the current Arab context of upheaval and change, it may seem almost anachronistic to show an artist so devoted to aesthetic experimentation,” Mosaic Rooms trustee Omar Al-Qattan acknowledges in his introduction to the Moroccan artist Abderrahim Yamou’s latest London exhibition, before arguing that this is precisely what is needed in a “world of chaos”.
Yamou’s abstract paintings of seeds, cells and fronds are certainly a welcome counterpoint to the burst of politically charged art currently emitting from Cairo and other revolutionary cities. A student of biology before discovering a vocation in art, his work combines an obvious love for natural form with stylistic discipline informed by classic Islamic design.
There is much to meditate on. Although the paintings are of natural life, the use of grey, cool purple and blue give many a lunar quality. This is most explicit in the Inside series, black with forms in white or grey, which are reminiscent of photos of galaxies. Yet in a different mood, the viewer could easily feel they had an eye to a petri dish – revealing lines and textures overlooked in everyday life.
Unfortunately this ambiguous theme can be punctured by a flat painting style, in which brush strokes are a little too obvious and some canvases overlarge.
The most alluring are in fact the smaller frames, which also tend to have the tightest compositions. They will not stun, but offer a moment of reflection from a busy city – and even busier art scene.