Mustapha Azeroual, “Recordings, Structures,” Opening May 19 at Mariane Ibrahim Gallery

Posted on May 17, 2016, 3:00 pm
3 mins


I’m sensing some themes (some of my favorite themes) at Mariane Ibrahim Gallery lately: 1) a play with physicality and abstraction; 2) subverted expectations/binaries; 3) trees.

The gorgeous show by artist Sean Slemon that just came down at the gallery had all of this. The upcoming show Recordings, Structures by Paris-based, abstract photographer Mustapha Azeroual promises more of this in a completely different way.

This will be Azeroual’s first solo exhibition in North America, but he has been exhibiting widely in France, Lebanon and the Emirates in recent years. His first formal training was as a scientist, and his process as an artist is informed by experimentation and a command of chemical processes and materials. Azeroual is currently developing a partnership with L’Observatoire de Paris-Meudon solar observatory (LESIA), so we can expect his output to grow more grand and complex in time.

As for this current show, the gallery has this to say:

Azeroual’s work is an investigation around various photographic practices as well as the specific challenges raised by the variety of techniques. There is one question that guides his practice: how can we create conditions, using the camera and alternative printing methodologies, where the eye is forced to overrule its learned way of seeing? Azeroual uses the Gum bi-chromate process together with contemporary digital techniques with the intention of constructing images that interrogate the notion that photography is the medium that reproduces exact replicas of what is seen. The ambiguity of this technique, which borrows from the painter’s tool kit, allows for a different type of image. Its development process proves to be a eulogy of slowness in confrontation with “snapshot” of shooting.

"Resurgence #1" by Mustapha Azeroual

“Resurgence #1” by Mustapha Azeroual. Image courtesy of Mariane Ibrahim Gallery.

In Azeroual’s Radiance series he creates a digital artifact from colors captured in the photographic chamber at sunrise and sunset. He transforms the landscape into a horizon. The vibrating surface of the lens reactivates the light cycle in a color chart so subtle that two persons sitting side by side would never view the same color. This act however slight, tricks the human eye into a visual experience that is singular from those of other viewers, but that also may be different with each viewing of the work.

If I were to describe the little bits that I have seen of his Radiance series in terms of established artists, I would say that they look like Hiroshi Sugimoto and Mark Rothko had a beautiful baby. Other works include prints on a specialized paper that drapes like a textile and other series (Resurgence and Alterations) that take images of bare trees and transform them into more abstract works through the development process.

See it all at Mariane Ibrahim Gallery, May 19 to June 26. There will be an opening reception on Thursday, May 19 from 6 to 8pm.

T.s. Flock is a writer and arts critic based in Seattle and co-founder of Vanguard Seattle.