Saddek Wasil (b. 1973) was brought up within a close-knit family - his father worked as a mechanic and his mother was a seamstress. Despite a lack of formal art training, Wasil gravitated towards creativity from an early age, reworking discarded and found objects from his father’s workshop, fascinated by the process of transformation.
Wasil’s practice is deeply rooted in the specifics of being born, bred and resident in the Holy City of Mecca. A thoughtful, religious man, his Muslim identity is the central tenet of his being, something expressed in every aspect of his work. The principal material he uses - iron - he cites as a sacred material, the only one described in the Koran as being given to mankind by Allah. Wasil scours Mecca’s streets, construction sites, and workshops, using the very fabric of the city in his work, breathing new life into discarded materials. He sees this as a way of revering and paying homage to The Holy City. The act of manipulating, transforming and subjugating this material to create a new entity is an instinctive, meditative process; a form of worship in itself.
The cross-cultural location of Mecca, where a huge diversity of people converge compelled by a singular motivation, has led Wasil to examine ideas of identity. In his Masks series, we see him recycling tin cans, mechanical parts, metal wire and other found objects to create faces within faces, each a slight variant but when placed together, a unified form: Wasil presents the paradox of man’s struggle between subjugating the ego and asserting individuality.
Wasil likes to work alone and many of the sculptures and installations in this exhibition relate to man’s inner conflicts. His Giacometti-esque, abstracted figures strive against unseen constraints for something beyond themselves. Human forms are often strangely distorted, twisted and deconstructed as they reach out for answers, or a form of salvation that is not always explicitly clear.
This exhibition presents a coherent body of work from an artist responding very specifically to the context of his contemporary surroundings. But at the core of Wasil’s practice is a deep-seated desire to express the fraught complexities of man’s spiritual life that, ultimately, transcends all earthly concerns.
This exhibition was originally shown in ArtSpace, Dubai in February 2015.
Wasil has exhibited extensively nationally and has participated in a number of international events and art fairs; Edge of Arabia, Istanbul (2010); OFID, Vienna (2011), Shanghai Expo at the Duolon Museum of Modern Art (2010); Art Dubai (2009, 2010, 2011); MENASA Art Fair, Beirut (2011); Marrakech Art Fair (2011) and the International Art Biennale in Dakar, Senegal ( 2008, 2009). In 2012, he launched is first solo exhibition at Athr Gallery ‘And They Will Not Cease to Differ…’ and participated in ‘Made in Makkah’, a group show of artists from Mecca at Artspace London. He has been selected for Dar Al- Ma’mun’s 2013 residency in Morocco.