Although he has used light as a medium and component since 2016, in Searching For Darkness (2021), the artist adds physics as another dimension to examine the universal application of light. Here AlShashai uses seven vertical light spirals that hang in a blackened room as a metaphor of our understanding and philosophy of its existence within darkness. The artwork also questions how visible light provides information, but not all of it. Various assumptions and theoretical calculations regarding the universe’s spiral galaxy continue to engage theoreticians. Among the most prevalent findings is that “dark matter” is the most plausible explanation of the spinning mysteries to date. In this newly commissioned light installation, the artist emphasizes our continuous need for enlightenment, and the effect of unpredictable outcomes as the viewer is confronted with seven constantly moving light sources at fluctuating speeds that reflect our surroundings’ uncertainty, calling for a moment for self-reflection.
Rashed AlShashai (b. 1977) is a Saudi artist who works with found objects and appropriated imagery as a conceptual means of identifying the signs of the everyday, creating what he describes as a ‘semantic field’ through which philosophical questions, primarily the purpose of human existence and the functions of society, can be explored. With playful forms, he seeks to engage viewers with the signifiers of the mundane in order to facilitate a consideration of what might otherwise create tension. This includes the omnipresence of media, a global descent into superficiality, and the growing epidemic of apathy that has come to define modern life.
AlShashai has been widely exhibited in the Gulf and abroad, including at Desert X AlUla (2020); Palais de Tokyo for Saudi Cultural Week in Paris (2019); 21,39 Jeddah Arts (2018, 2017, 2016); The Kennedy Centre in Washington D.C. (2018); Winter at Tantora, AlUla (2018); the Islamic Arts Festival, Sharjah (2017); and The Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, Utah (2017).
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