Critics’ Picks

Khaled Sabsabi, 40 (detail), 2021, two-channel UHD video installation, stereo sound, enamel and oil stick on acrylic glass and paper. Installation view.

Khaled Sabsabi, 40 (detail), 2021, two-channel UHD video installation, stereo sound, enamel and oil stick on acrylic glass and paper. Installation view.

Campbelltown

Khaled Sabsabi

Campbelltown Arts Centre
1 Art Gallery Road
January 4–March 27, 2022

“A Hope” is the poignant second chapter of a major survey of Lebanese-Australian artist Khaled Sabsabi’s work, following “A Promise” at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 2021. Implicit in the exhibition title is the notion of possibility, which reverberates throughout the show as the artist delves into the complexities of place, identity, and culture—universal questions that have particular resonance in the contemporary Australian context. The works oscillate between representations of the political and the spiritual, the mundane and the divine. The recontextualized installation Aajnya, 1998/2021, mobilizes scent and vibration to evoke a childhood memory of seeking refuge underground during the Lebanese civil war, while the arresting two-channel video installation Wonderland, 2014, captures the almost ritualistic devotion of a multiethnic group of chanting football fans. 40, 2021, juxtaposes nature scenes with a shot of a woman’s face beneath an overlay of translucent veils. The footage is projected onto two large screens on opposite sides of a dark room permeated by a soft, ethereal soundtrack. Suspended between them are eighteen two-sided acrylic-and-oil stick paintings of semi-abstract figures, heightening the mystical undertones of the space.

Sabsabi’s installations overlap and blur the lines between figuration and abstraction, the digital and the analog. This comes as much from his background in hip-hop music as from his channeling of Sufism, which emphasizes nonduality and the coexistence of different ideas within one reality. Using light and sound to delineate thresholds, the artist builds physical and metaphysical atmospheres that test the limits of our perception, leaving us pondering our finite experience of the world.