Renewal, 2017, site-specific mural
In 2015, Mona Marzouk created a series of eight murals at Villa Romana in Florence, the city from where the Medici once rose to power, the formidable ruling dynasty of Renaissance Italy and the potent patrons of a new era in art. She used iconography developed by artists working under Medici patronage as a source for her own imagery. She took the family’s Latin motto and translated it into English for her title: Renewal. But, Marzouk’s murals also scratch at something underneath the grand Medici myth: the banal reality that is the coarse pursuit of power.
Across her oeuvre, Marzouk has sought to limn the power structures that arch over and undergird our daily lives. Her meticulously delineated, polyphonic collages are rooted in extensive research—historical research, often, though Marzouk does not see history as a fixed subject, but a container of concepts and patterns that recirculate and reshuffle. Power was firmly in the grip of the privileged few in Renaissance Italy; Renewal might remind how authoritarian fists still wrest power over the people today. Artists re-brokered their understanding of themselves and the world during the Renaissance; entering this unpredictable twenty-first- century, we too may sway in confusion as we question even what it means to be human.
But history doesn’t repeat itself—it only rhymes. It’s hard to find the right words to accompany Marzouk’s abstract grammar, but her abstractions may help us pictureour own re-brokering with reality and help us picture something new beyond the horizon of the past.
－Curator ｜Alexandra Stock
(b. 1968, Alexandria, Egypt; based in Helsinki, Finland) Mona Marzouk’s interest in architectural histories is visible in many of her works—in painting, sculpture as well as site-specific murals and paintings. Blurring the boundary between past and present day, man-made and natural, biomorphic and geometrical, personal and political, beautiful and ugly, and masculine and feminine, Marzouk redefines how we see the world. With the sensibility of a maverick architect, Marzouk envisions aesthetic systems that draw on a diversity of cultural traditions but which can only exist in the realm of the imagination. Her early paintings and sculptures reassemble disparate architectural elements from history as well as animal and body parts to construct unified compositions. Castles and cathedrals, crenellations and crustaceans merge together in fluid form. Her compositions, which often float in the center of a frame, reference post-minimalism, with their hard edges and flat expanses of solid color.
Curator : Alexandra Stock
curatorial practice and arts management in the Middle East. She is the Creative Director of ARCHiNOS, Egypt’s leading architecture, design and conservation firm that operates at the intersections of tangible & intangible cultural heritage and contemporary art & design. She previously held curatorial and/or managerial positions at the Townhouse Gallery and Beirut, both in Cairo, and Al Riwaq Art Space in Bahrain. Stock graduated from the Zurich University of the Arts with a BFA in Art Theory, completed De Appel’s Curatorial Program in Amsterdam and studied Arabic at the DEAC in Cairo. She is a participant of the yearlong Townhouse Curatorial Program and the Townhouse ISP in Cairo, the first initiatives of their kind both offered in and focused on the history & historiography of art in the greater Middle East. For three seasons, Stock represented the MENA region on the International Council advisory board of PBS’s Peabody and Emmy award-winning broadcast program Art in the Twenty-First Century and later consulted for the Bahrain Authority for Culture & Antiquities.