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Alia Ahmad / من الحلم .. . روضة (A meadow … from a dream) / Kohn Gallery

November 5, 2022 - January 14, 2023

Ahmad’s debut presentation both with the gallery, and in the United States. In من الحلم .. . روضة (A meadow … from a dream), Ahmad’s large-scale paintings pay tribute to her home, the industrial desert city of Riyadh­. Her excavations of time, place, and memory transpose meticulous, vibrant color palettes, into abstracted landscapes­­.

Ahmad creates social spaces within linear impressions of the desert, playing on the tense contradiction between extreme emptiness of place and lush flora. Her dense terrains take inspiration from aesthetics of unfinished woven textiles, which in turn become sites for the interweaving of process, spatiality, and stimuli. These gaps of thread allow her continuous investigations to seep and construct different forms.

In A meadow … from a dream, Ahmad lets her studio environment inform her work; an innate process organically amalgamated through human interaction. In turn, this creates microworlds separated by distinct lines which envision brilliantly-hued likenesses of tectonic movement. Her instincts permeate her practice by means of exploratory compositions that begin and end on canvas. Ahmad refers to her paintings as “blueprints” that transform with every application of paint. The distinguished spaces and collage-like nature of this series gestures their intrinsicness, furthered by the use of restricted color palettes to create abundant configurations Ahmad describes as “siblings.”

Her paintings encompass a visual language that is as much linguistic as it is impressionistic. With subdued, washed out lines, she situates a series of calligraphic motifs across a number of canvases, recalling in part Lee Ufan’s collisional works between the natural and industrial, Joan Mitchell’s abstracted landscapes, and Vincent Van Gogh’s expressive brushstrokes. Ahmad strives to balance the inherent readability of her work with the internal translation that occurs when someone is brought into her colorful world. “In Arabic riyadh translates to ‘oasis within a desert”, Ahmad explains, “my intention is to illuminate that there is a lot of life from a land that is perceived as dry.”


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