The Mosaic Rooms - 10 Years

Modern Masters and Contemporary Culture from the Arab World and Iran


To celebrate The Mosaic Rooms’ 10th anniversary, they present an ambitious programme of exhibitions and events running from spring 2018 to autumn 2019. Overseen by Rachael Jarvis, director of The Mosaic Rooms, the season is made up of six exhibitions split into two alternating strands: a series focussed on seminal Arab and Iranian modernist artists from Egypt, Iran and Morocco curated by Morad Montazami and a series of group shows presenting contemporary art from these three countries organised in partnership with regional institutions and curators.

The season launches this April with a solo exhibition dedicated to the influential Egyptian modernist painter Hamed Abdalla (1917-1985). Entitled ARABÉCÉDAIRE, a play on the French word ‘abécédaire’ meaning a visual alphabet primer. Abdalla’s work centred on his development of the word-form, written words expressed in paint, blending abstraction and human forms. The exhibition focuses on six key words and uses Abdalla’s personal archives and library and to explore his visual language and political ideas.

For summer 2018, The Mosaic Rooms collaborates with Cairo’s well-known Townhouse gallery to present What do you mean, here we are?, a group exhibition featuring the work of contemporary artists such as Mona Hatoum, Susan Hefuna, Basim Magdy and Wael Shawky. Through a series of artworks and archival material the exhibition tells the story of Townhouse’s evolution from a modest start in the backstreets of downtown Cairo to its emergence at the centre of the regional art scene and into more recent periods of turmoil and re-configuration.

The modernist exhibition strand continues in Autumn 2018 with a focus on the provocative Iranian artist Bahman Mohassess (1931-2010). Mohasses bridged Iranian history and western modernism, conducting a unique intercultural dialogue with the Surrealists, Alberto Giacometti and Henry Moore.

2019 will begin with an exhibition exploring the dynamics of artistic production in Iran today. Curated by Azar Mahmoudian, the exhibition focuses on artistic interventions, self-organised art initiatives, and self-publishing. This group exhibition will feature newly commissioned and existing artworks that examine the role of art in creating new social models.

To complete the modernist series in spring 2019 The Mosaic Rooms present works by the abstract painter Mohammed Melehi (b. 1936) and the Casablanca art school. Melehi’s own work results from a dialogue between Moroccan traditional and popular craft, whilst also connecting to the hard edge painters of the 50’s and 60’s. Paintings by Melehi, canvases of bright flat colour with his characteristic wave motif, will be shown alongside works by other influential figures from this transformative art school.

Bringing the 10th anniversary programme to a close, The Mosaic Rooms in collaboration with Morocco-based Kulte Gallery organise RAW QUEENS, a group exhibition curated by Yasmina Naji. The exhibition explores art, feminism and decolonisation and features work by artists including Fatima Mazmouz and Meriem Bennani.

For more information about the series please contact

Image credit: Lara Baladi, Al Fanous el Sehry (Arabic, ’The Magic Lantern’), 2002. X-rays, acetate prints, Iron, digital montage. 29 meter circumference islamic star shaped light box, Townhouse Gallery of contemporary art.  Photo courtesy of the artist.