HIGHLIGHT is pleased to present a two-person exhibition of work by Taha Belal and Marine Hugonnier curated by Kelly Huang. The exhibition is built on the premise that art is not created in a vacuum; rather, it is created within the context of a social, cultural and political moment. Marine Hugonnier and Taha Belal introduce this context through their use of print media—books, magazines, newspapers—as apparatuses for their conceptual conceits. Their works are reflections of engagement, and together, their works address formal concerns alongside an interest in the political.
Belal is interested in media as a vehicle for information that his works either obscure or exploit. His works are a reflection of the editorial process itself—taking content and reorganizing it to create new meaning. The patterns and colors that overlay the newsprint are derived from traditional motifs and reference the underlying grid and structure of media. His color choices mirror that of print and online media—CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) and RGB (red, green, blue). In his Mussawar series, Belal juxtaposes advertisements with the editorial content that appears alongside them in the actual publications. The overlaying colored patterns weave the imagery and content together to create new abstractions. In the second series of works, Belal isolates the geometries applied to the newsprint and presents them as formal elements of their own.
In Hugonnier’s Art for Modern Architecture series, the text of each newspaper page is kept intact while Hugonnier’s own silkscreened color blocks replace the photographs. Hugonnier selects newspaper front pages from significant moments in history—from the fall of communism to the end of the Vietnam War or the turn of the millennium. All of these events are associated with iconic photographs that Hugonnier has interpreted and reduced to simple colors that reference a standard Kodak color chart. The artist thus formalizes an image in potential, recalling the viewer’s memory and a collective consciousness. This “coverage” principal therefore works as an open door to a cultural and emotional ground that breaks the narrative structure and temporality.
Taha Belal lives and works in Cairo, Egypt. He completed his MFA at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco in 2008. Recent exhibitions include Tea with Nefertiti: The Making of an Artwork by the Artist, the Museum and the Public, MATHAF—Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha, Qatar, Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris, Hayward Gallery Southbank Center, London, and the Palais de Beaux-Arts in Brussels, Belgium; The Atmosphere from before the Step Down Returns to the Square, Haines Gallery, San Francisco; RGB, The Townhouse Gallery, Cairo; and On The Ground, Southern Exposure, San Francisco. He was a nominee for the SECA Art Award at SFMOMA in 2010.
Marine Hugonnier lives and works in London. Recent solo exhibitions include Malmo Konsthall, Sweden; MAMCO, Geneva, Switzerland; S.M.A.K., Gent, Belgium; Philadelphia Museum of Art; and the Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland. Her work has been included in group exhibitions including Shock of the News, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Poule!, Jumex Collection, Mexico City; and I Am Still Alive: Politics and Everyday Life in Contemporary Drawing, MoMA New York; among many others. Her work is included in such prominent collections as the ARCO Collection, Madrid; Inhotim, Brumadinho, Brazil; Jumex Collection, Mexico City; Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland; MoMA, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; and the Philadephia Museum of Art.
Kelly Huang is an Associate Art Advisor with Zlot Buell + Associates. She completed her MA in Arts Administration and Policy at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2009. Previously, Kelly worked as a Curatorial Assistant at The Renaissance Society, Visiting Gallery Manager for Gallery 400 at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and as Photo Editor for The Atlantic. She currently serves as a co-founder of Artadia’s San Francisco Council and was Programming Chair for SFMOMA’s Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art (SECA) from 2010-2012. Kelly is also a columnist for the Art21 Blog.