Faisal Abdu’Allah
THE DUPPY
CONQUEROR AND OTHER STORIES

15 DEC - 4 APR 2018
LONDON: AUTOGRAPH

FREE ENTRY

Curated by Mark Sealy

Autograph

Rivington Place

London

RE2A 3BA


past exhibition

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About the exhibition

A new solo exhibition by visual artist Faisal Abdu’Allah (b. 1969, London). Through his interdisciplinary practice encompassing photography, print-making, video, sculpture, drawings and installation, Abdu’Allah asks probing questions in relation to history, myth, faith, masculinity, memory and violence, as well as race, representation and iconography.

The title of the exhibition refers to Abdu’Allah’s new photo tapestries, The Duppy Conqueror. In this triptych, Abdu’Allah explores a masked alter-ego character known as the Duppy Conqueror.

In Jamaican tradition, a duppy is an evil ghost or spirit.

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This malevolent supernatural being resurrected by Abdu’Allah highlights the genocidal nature of violence against the black body, and the ongoing struggle with ghosts or spectres from the past, conjured by a hostile world dominated by ignorance and deception.

In two new sculptural works commissioned by Autograph, The Barber’s Chair and The Barber’s Clippers (2017), the artist’s studio and the barber’s salon come together as interchangeable spaces of cultural activity. Gold-plated, evocatively lit and installed in a discrete gallery room painted black, these life-size works refer to the importance of the barbershop as a gathering place for black men: where an exchange of news and views occurs, a space to come of age, and where intimacy and vulnerability between men is possible. Alongside his artistic and academic practice, Abdu’Allah maintains a profession as a barber, the ritual of cutting and dressing hair informs his work. The role black hair performs in foregrounding cultural difference, and the proliferation of story-telling throughout the process, and provides a means to bring these two different worlds together.

The Last Supper I + II is a series of photo works (originally commissioned by Autograph in 1994 and produced in collaboration with Kofi Allen) reworked as two large photo-tapestries. In these elaborately staged tableaux, Abdu’Allah and Kofi Allen present 12 young black men and women reenacting Christ’s final feast, dressed in everyday street clothes and Muslim garb. Heavily armed, these figures are in between zones of confrontation and protection.

Other works on display include After Kosuth (2012-17), a self-portrait photograph, photo etching on paper and gold-plated bronze cast of the artist’s head. This work is a reflection of Abdu’Allah’s interest in transformation, states of consciousness and experimentation with multiple forms of printing, inspired by the work One and Three Chairs (1965) by American conceptual artist Joseph Kosuth.

Head of State (1997) represents Abdu’Allah’s practice in the late-1990s, when he first began to experiment with site-specific gallery installations that juxtapose sculpture, three-dimensional objects and photographs. Wallpapers of bodies in a morgue and a life-size coffin are emblematic of encounters with death, conjuring up the experience of violence, loss and mourning. Abdu’Allah describes this artificial realm as a ‘space of no escape’ and its gruesome affect is an admission of the need for more social wakefulness.

WHAT OUR VISITORS SAY

"Powerful representations of historically underrepresented groups of people"

NEW SCULPTURE COMMISSION

Autograph has commissioned two new sculptural works by FAisal Abdu'Allah for this exhibition. In The Barber’s Chair and The Barber’s Clippers , the artist’s studio and the barber’s salon are formally joined as indistinguishable spaces of cultural activity and as sites for new reflections.

Gold-plated, evocatively lit and installed in a discrete gallery room painted black, these life-size works refer to the importance of the barbershop as a gathering place for black men: where an exchange of news and views occurs, a space to come of age / a rite of passage, as well as where intimacy and vulnerability between men are possible.

For Abdu’Allah, who alongside his artistic and academic practice maintains a profession as a barber, the ritual of cutting/cultivating hair informs his work – the role black hair performs in foregrounding cultural difference, and the proliferation of story-telling throughout the process – and provides a means to bring these two different worlds together.

Golden clippers, by Faisal Abdu'Allah

EVENT

Duppy Conqueror and the Barber’s Chair

Exploring the cultural significance of the barbershop



Tue 27 Feb 2018, 7PM
Photograph of Inua Ellams by Caleb Femi. Ellams looks towards the right hand corner of the image, appearing to be gazing in to the distance. He is bearded and against a bright yellow wall.

EVENT

The Barber Shop: Reading and Performance By Inua Ellams



thurs 22 Feb 2018, 7pm
A tightly cropped photograph of artist Faisal Abdu'Allah cutting the straight hair of a mostly obscured person. He looks intently at his subject, considering his next cut.

EVENT

Live Salon with Faisal Abdu'Allah

Have your hair cut by the artist while discussing themes from his exhibition

SAT 24 MAR 2018, 2pm
A black and white photograph of the artist Faisal Abdu'Allah dressed in a black poloneck. He has on an apparent superhero eye mask and is holding up two of his fingers on his right hand in an almost religious pose. His left hand is crossed gently across his body.

LISTEN

Spotify playlist for The Duppy Conquerer

Chosen by Faisal Abdu'Allah, listen for free on Spotify



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EXHIBITION SUPPORTED BY

Supported using public funding by Arts Council England
University of Wisconsin Madison
Goldgenie

SPECIAL THANKS

Autograph would like to thank the University of Wisconsin-Madison for its support.

Banner images: 1) Faisal Abdu-Allah, The Barber’s Chair, 2017. Commissioned by Autograph. Installation photograph by Ben Reeves. 2) Faisal Abdu’Allah Duppy Conqueror, 2017. Jacquard tapestry. 3 - 4)The Duppy Conqueror & Other Works gallery installation at Autograph, London. Photograph: Zoe Maxwell.

Page images, from top left: Faisal Abdu’Allah, The Barber’s Clippers, 2017. Commissioned by Autograph. 2) Inua Ellams. Photograph courtesy of Caleb Femi. 3)  Faisal Abdu'Allah live salon. 4) Faisal Abdu’Allah, Duppy Conqueror, 2017. Jacquard tapestry.