Sanam Khatibi: Lemon Drizzle
Groeningemuseum presents the solo exhibition ‘Lemon Drizzle’ by Belgian artist Sanam Khatibi, showcasing works that illustrate an exotic, sumptuously detailed world.
Groeningemuseum presents the solo exhibition ‘Lemon Drizzle’ by Belgian artist Sanam Khatibi. With works spanning the mediums of painting, tapestry, embroidery, and sculpture, Khatibi’s diverse and enigmatic oeuvre explores the duality of triumph and failure, animality, and sensuality. In Lemon Drizzle, each artwork is utilised to tell a layered story; they are simultaneously intertwined and built upon one another to form one ‘Gesammtkunstwerk’.
Khatibi brings together a wealth of visual material within each of the represented scenes, connected to one another through the content, scenography, and the eponymous green and yellow tones. Large tableaus – ‘Now that the evening is no longer silent’ (2018), and ‘Lemon Drizzle’ (2021) – depict scenes that are at once Eden-like and dystopic. The thin, almost transparent figures placed within these opulent environments carry elements of the grotesque, but also of feminine power. Laden with a deeply embedded sense of symbolism, these paintings are reminiscent of the iconography and compositions of artists such as Lucas Cranach the Elder, Jan Van Scorel, and Frida Kahlo.
Presented alongside these paintings is a collection of smaller-scale still lifes, the intimacy and detail of which is akin to 17th-century Baroque works. Despite the monumental size of the two tableaus and the large-scale figures they contain, the still-lifes retain a sense of importance within the space. Featuring saturated tones and deep shadows playing over flowers, vessels, and obscure miniature objects, the smaller works lend a formalism to the fluid interplay of (wo)man and nature in the large-format pieces. Positioned in an undefined space, the meticulous lines and intense colours of the still life settings make them recognizable as silent witnesses to the other exhibited scenes. Similar small objects may also be traced to the large paintings; tiny chalices, skulls, fruits, and animals form repeated motifs across the entire exhibition. In the still lifes they come to the fore, taking on the role of soloists, or translators, providing an alternative, detailed reading of the large-format paintings. Torn from their natural surroundings, they become symbols and emblems, ready to be deciphered and dissected.
This object-reading dimension is repeated through an ornate display case in the centre of the exhibition space, in which Khatibi displays a selection of detailed ceramic pieces and other objects drawn from her own collection as well as that of Musea Brugge. They are the physical manifestation of the complex iconography represented within the painted works; an anchor point to a complex exploration of the relationships between man and animal, life and death, power and impotence, creation and destruction. Through Lemon Drizzle, Khatibi illustrates a mythology that invites a sense of reflection and dualism through an exotic, sumptuously detailed world.
Lemon Drizzle is on display at Groeningemuseum, Bruges, until October 3.
Images courtesy of Musea Brugge.