Shadi Al–Atallah - Whitechapel Gallery Art Icon: Charity Online Auction London Tuesday, March 12, 2024 | Phillips

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  • Shadi Al-Atallah creates large-scale figurative paintings. The dark and dynamic figures depicted in the mixed-media works are distorted self-portraits.  Drawing connections between the Queer ballroom scene and folkloric dance traditions from the African diaspora, Al-Atallah explores ideas of performativity, spirituality and catharsis.


    Working in rapid motion, Al-Atallah paints fast to avoid their thoughts slipping and each painting documents a single hazy moment in time. They are interested in examining the space between the mundane and the spiritual. Al-Atallah has further described painting as a means to escape the constraints of language.  It allows them to invent genderless figures, an ambiguity that language rarely grants. That the work remains enigmatic, also invites the viewer to connect with the artwork on their terms.


    They were right, 2023 addresses our shared concerns about apocalyptic destruction, while expressing a yearning for tenderness and vulnerability. In a composition also inspired by Mesopotamian and Greek depictions of wrestling, the entwined figures appear to be at the edge of a quarrel or an affectionate embrace. Queer intimacy meets science fiction in this vivid depiction of fear and desire. One figure, adorned with wings and fly-like antennae, suggests the possibility of alien invasion and has been described by the artist as an embodiment of our collective fears and anxieties about the unknown. The painted scene prompts viewers to consider how Queer intimacy and desire intersect with our broader worries about the world.


    Shadi Al-Atallah in their studio. Photo: Brynley Odu Davies. Courtesy of Guts Gallery 

    Shadi Al-Atallah (b. 1994, Khobar, Saudi Arabia) lives and works in London. Selected exhibitions include: Rapture, Steve Turner, Los Angeles, 2023, Fist Fight, Guts Gallery, London, 2023, Waters That Never Quench, Steve Turner, Los Angeles, 2022 and Dreaming of Home, The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, New York, 2023.

    • Provenance

      Donated by the artist and Guts Gallery


They Were Right

signed with the artist's initials and dated 'RW8' on the reverse; signed 'RW*' on the stretcher
acrylic, ink, pencil and oil pastel on canvas
170.5 x 156 cm (67 1/8 x 61 3/8 in.)
Painted in 2023.

Full Cataloguing

£8,000 - 12,000 

Contact Specialist

Olivia Taylor
Head of Sale
+44 7823 791 633

Whitechapel Gallery Art Icon: Charity Online Auction

12 - 19 March 2024