Revealing queer identity as a utopian horizon and the underlying vulnerability in expressions of masculinity, Soufiane Ababri’s works critically and humorously engage with historical works of art and texts - essays and literature - and unfold within a historical and contemporary discussion at the intersection of queer politics and postcolonialism.
Ababri’s visual storytelling is akin to an art-historical activism questioning the process of history writing while emphasizing minor histories and intimate recorded events as the point of departure of his works. Deftly weaving his own biography and heritage with the intellectual and artistic output of figures such as Jean Genet, Michel Foucault, Felix Gonzales Torres, Allen Ginsberg or Nazim Hikmet, his works mobilize the anecdotal, diaristic and sometimes accidental as the location where an intimate knowledge based on affinities can engender a sense of community in motion across time and place. Working against hierarchical conventions of art making, in his ongoing series “bedworks”, he chooses to work both literally and conceptually, from a horizontal plane instead of “vertically”; from the privacy of his bedroom instead of the studio, emphasizing domesticity; and using crayons and pastels on paper instead of oil or canvas. The exclusively male figures in his drawings seem often caught in moments of intimate, social, sexual and emotional exposure and vulnerability, alternating between expressions of shame, desire, horror and joy. Depicting scenes in a simplified, almost naive manner, his drawings present a flattened perspective reminiscent of both orthodox imagery and Persian miniatures in their collapsing of distance and spatial hierarchy to re-arrange values associated to figure and background, between what is obviously visible and what may not be. Ababri’s use of text alongside drawing at times conveys an internal dialogue in confessional or humoristic form from the introspective space; while in larger collage works he paints over found materials to activate a deeper social and political backdrop.
Besides series of drawings and collages on paper, Soufiane Ababri actively engages with installation, sculpture and performance to create immersive environments in reference to queer and clandestine forms of socializing, acting through intermediality and theatricality to reflect on how we record, share, claim and participate in collective resonances of our most intimate fantasies and fears.
Soufiane Ababri (1985, Rabat) lives and works between Tangiers and Paris.
Soufiane Ababri has had solo exhibitions worldwide including Si nous ne brûlons pas, comment éclairer la nuit?, Praz-Delavallade (Paris, 2023); NON MERCII!!!, Dittrich&Schlechtriem (Berlin, 2022); Bunch of Queequeg, Praz-Delavallade, (Los Angeles, 2021); YES! AÏ AÏ AÏ AÏ AÏ AÏ AÏ ... AM, Mendes Wood DM, (Brussels, 2021); A Circus Act Behind Bars of Lilac And Blood, Kulte Art Center (Rabat, 2020); Tropical Concrete Gym Park, Glassbox (Paris, 2020) and Memories Of A Solitary Cruise, THE PILL (Istanbul, 201). His work has been shown in institutional group shows such as Every Moment Counts, Henie Onstad Kunstcenter (Oslo, 2022); Queering The Narrative, Neuer Aachener Kunstverein (Aachen, 2022); Trilogie des cendres, FRAC Pays de la Loire (Carquefou, 2022); Habibi, les révolutions de l’amour, Institute du Monde Arabe (Paris, 2022); Attention, International Festival For Contemporary Art (Glasgow, 2021); Welcome Home Vol.II, MACAAL (Marrakesh, 2020); Lignes de vies - Une exposition de légendes, MAC VAL (Vitry, 2019) and Par amour du jeu, Magasins Généraux (Pantin, 2018), among many. His work is part of private and public collections of FRAC Poitou-Charentes and FRAC Pays de la Loire; MACVAL; Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden in Morocco and X Museum in Beijing.