Middle Voids: Exhibition review by Mahasin Ismail

Installation shot, Middle voids, Reem Aljeally 2022

I only had the privilege to visit the exhibition twice but it completely felt like walking in a Deja Vu. The idea of chairs hanging from the ceiling uncomfortably installed as a centre model was something so familiar to my brain, that it slightly resembles Galal Yousif’s iconic painting “Chairs fight”. 

Khartoum based visual artist and architect Reem Aljeally, beautifully surprised her audience with a new exhibition collaborating with The French Institute in Khartoum to take an accelerated step in her career with bold visions towards wider publicity and exposure. She raised the bar with both professional execution and visually seductive narration showing competitive curatorial skills. 

Hunting for chairs, Reem Aljeally, Installation 2022
Chairs fight, Galal Yousif, 2021

Let’s start by magnifying the impact of how choosing a well studied thoughtful exhibition title acted as a powerful marketing tool to grasp the public attention. In this exhibition, Reem presented a series including over 32 various sized acrylic paintings that reflect the artist’s experimentation in mark making and figuration. The works examine changes the artist noticed after she moved into a new drawing studio where she discovered the correlation between space and its effects on the final art production as a continuation to her thinking process. 

Reem’s previous studio in Khartoum, October 2021

Unlike figurative artists with conceptual aims, Reem is sumptuous in sending specific emotions and controlled messages. Behind each new character presented is an attempt to articulate the studio spirit with enough painterly effects and crafted details to make it profoundly memorable and exceptionally authentic. 

Figures combine irregular shapes and surfaces that look cheerful but busy, anxious yet curious, painted against a profile of bright, vivid, flat colours that hint a creative motive in contemporary themes. The artist emphasizes the impact of places on a person’s behavior, imagination, choices and outputs. Her astounding love for color and special attention to details is prominent in (Vogue: Big eyes edition series) that reflect social issues, arbitrary beauty standards, highlight the VOGUE cover irrelevant selection eligibility and comments on topics such as stereotypes and matters on the digital age. 

Installation shot, Middle Voids, Reem Aljeally 2022

Marrying the tradition of Otto Dix and George Grosz to contemporary vision of people obsessed with their cell phones in provocative postures making some of her subjects almost unrecognizable. By contrasting space, vacuum and place with soft edges and skin tone of the figures, Reem creates a timely discussion on physical places in contrast to non material places. She also brings to light a growing question of what does a cat or any animal do in your painting when it’s not the main subject. This demonstration highlights the importance of making the supporting members part of the composition, without overshadowing the main subject of the figure. Traditionally, there has been a common use of animals in contemporary self-portraits by Frida Khalo that the artist inspires from and gives a hint to in self portraiture works as well.

I have always hated April, Acrylics on canvas, Reem Aljeally 2022
My shrink needs a seat or two, Acrylics on canvas, Reem Aljeally 2022

Besides her art, Reem is a successful artpreneur running a reputable well branded creative hub that seeks to enrich artistic content, support emerging artists, and host conversations in the scene. She has also been actively playing an incredible role in empowering young female artists and shortening the gap of female under representation issues in Sudan through the platform “Bait Alnisa”. Reem and her team were recently awarded the prestigious “Abbara” grant by the Cultural resource as well as a fund from AFAC (Arab fund for arts and culture) for their residency project “Decaying Bank: Reproducing Khartoum Visually” along with other creative key figures in the Arab Art world.

Installation shot, Middle voids, Reem Aljeally 2022

Mahasin is a widely sociable outdoorsy 21 years old art blogger who is driven by curiosity and fascinated by (People) . Fangirling over art, American politics, and hospitality industry, maybe an entrepreneur, in an open journey quest for meaning of Home.






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