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Tarek Sebastian Al-Shammaa

Prince of Peace // The Gulf Between Us

25th Nov - 12th Dec, Tue - Sat, PV 25th November 6-9 pm
Bomb Factory South Gallery, Chelsea

The Bomb Factory South is pleased to announce 'Prince of Peace // The Gulf Between Us', an exhibition of new paintings by Tarek Sebastian Al-Shammaa.

Tarek Sebastian Al-Shammaa is a painter who creates large technicolour canvasses that delve into tropes of mysticism, colonialism, and tokenism. As a first-generation French / Iraqi living in Britain, he continually questions the ongoing turmoil and injustices in the Middle East under Western imperialism, and the effects of colonial exoticism.

His main practice is contemporary history painting in which he combines historical and mythological subject matter, but contrasts these ideas with the harsh reality of the contemporary world. As an artist with a complicated mixed ancestry he is ideally placed to comment on the past / current dominant forces at large. 

The title of the exhibition, ‘Prince of Peace // The Gulf Between Us’, encapsulates his ideas, and the works appear to come full-circle from peaceful renditions of pipe-playing musicians to horrific presentations of torture and war crimes. The contrasting imagery is unreconcilable and shocking, particularly when viewed amidst the current upending of the United States’ position in the Middle East. 

In each of Al-Shammaa’s large-scale painterly works, he creates narratives that reflect on past decades of colonial supremacy. He invites the viewer to experience his intimate paintings of snake charmers, migrants and shepherds, as idealised shadows of the past and present. Throughout his work, the protagonist figures are abstracted, emphasizing the multiplicity of identity while confronting the internalisation of Arabic stereotypes created by the West. Al-Shammaa re-contextualises the colonial gaze set throughout the Eurocentric art canon and creates a post-colonial world, where he presents the viewer with poignant psychological insight into his own life and heritage. 

Al-Shammaa has found himself straddling two oft-opposing cultures throughout his life. Combining portraiture and symbolism, he creates deeply moving compositions that are rooted in history but injected with a piercing overtone of the contemporary.


Private View: Thursday 25th November 2021, 6-9pm

Dates:  25 November – 12 December 2021, Tuesday - Saturday

Location: Bomb Factory South Gallery, Unit G13 (Lots Road Entrance), The Plaza, 535 Kings Road, London, SW10 0SZ. 


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