Subscribe to our newsletter for our must-see exhibitions, artists, events and more here
Shop William Kentridge Prints here

Dor Guez featured in London Gallery Round-Up December 2022

For Dor Guez’s first solo exhibition with the gallery in London, the artist was in conversation with the author Ben Luke. This gave an important biographical context to the works shown. Guez was born in Jerusalem to a Palestinian family on his mother’s side and a family of North African Jewish immigrants on his father’s side. In this body of work – a photographic series, sculptures and a video installation – Guez raises questions about the role of contemporary art in narrating unwritten histories. Embodying both sides of this conflict narrative, Guez became interested in the idea of a private archive that might allow for a more nuanced story to emerge. Guez is first and foremost an academic, and the phrase “Knowing the Land” was coined in 1845 by Joseph Schwarz, one of the first geographers of Ottoman Palestine. Today, Knowing the Land Studies have become more recognised as an interdisciplinary, no longer confined to the subject of Geography.

But thinking about something and showing it – like mapping – are two very different things. By referencing “Knowing the Land” in the context of the 1948 British Mandate period in Palestine, Guez’s work highlights the disconnect between colonial exploration of the Levant and its inhabitants. Guez gives us this experience – a sense of the unknowable – through mysteriously rendered works drawn from found archival elements, including maps. During the conversation with Luke, Guez discussed his new series of prints titled Amid Imperial Grids (2022), shown in the gallery’s basement. In these, he manipulated negative images of the first modern maps of Palestine dating back to 1885. Based on these maps, two geographical grids were established at the beginning of the 20th century: “The British Palestine Grid” and “The French Levant Grid”, divided on the map by a thick pink line. In the process, Guez erased all human markers from the maps that categorised the landscape. Names of roads, towns, borders, villages, cities, mountains, and valleys were all removed. To Luke, the works had a very human aspect, something akin to magnified images of skin. Going downstairs to see them displayed on the dark walls, I had an altogether different response – the hot orange tributaries and neon pink lines looked like lava engulfing veins—fire for blood. Although out of context, we are not fully able to understand what we are looking at, our gaze is held by an unmistakable beauty.

Until 14 January 2023