11 Jan 2024 - 19 Feb 2024

Desert Displacements

Lawrie Shabibi


Lawrie Shabibi is thrilled to announce the second solo exhibition by Perúvian artist Ishmael Randall-Weeks at the gallery. The exhibition, which runs from 11 January – 9 February 2024, transforms fundamental geometric models into objects echoing the poetry of utility. Each of the artworks showcased weaves through the domains of architecture and design, anchoring themselves within social and spiritual contexts from both Peruvian and Arab cultures.

In Desert Displacements geometric forms converge with elements rich with history and metaphors—walking sticks, stones, rulers, an olive branch or the figure of a falcon—all interwoven into a tapestry of historical references. From the architectural legacies of Bauhaus to the artistic symbols of pre-Columbian cultures, Ishmael’s pieces refract visions of past and future, highlighting a shared human experience across time and space. Through these narratives lies an exploration of construction processes and their societal resonance, connecting the artist’s personal inquiry with perspectives on the sacred and the ritualistic. The artworks become a contemplation on how physical structures shape our movements, emotions, communications, and dreams—an invitation to ponder the impact of form and functionality on our daily existence.

This journey began amidst the barren expanse of the Perúvian desert—a place teeming with life, whispers of history, and the solitude of wind-carved landscapes. In the valley of Samaca, amidst the resting winds, parabolic shapes sculpted by nature’s hand became an inspiration, mirroring the unity of form in both the natural and constructed worlds. The sight of parabolic antennas in the distance connected disparate deserts, forging a metaphorical bridge between the sands of Perú and the Arabian dunes.

Venturing the coastal landscape, the artist noticed the coexistence of thriving olive trees amid ancient archaeological ruins, echoing a continuity between the two cultures. These Perúvian olive trees have successfully adapted to their surroundings, after being introduced by the Phoenicians, developed in the Al Andalus and arriving with the Spanish. The olive tree, an enduring symbol of peace and unity, stands as a testament to cultural exchange. Yet, its significance is tarnished by conflict—a reminder of the struggle for peace amidst tumultuous histories. Ishmael’s pursuit of material and spiritual form, as a testament to time’s passage, explores the essence of guidance and displacement.

Symbolic connections emerge between ancient cultures, migratory paths, and the contemporary worlds where the artist’s work finds its stage. Ishmael Randall-Weeks equally ponders the significance of the Peregrine falcon, revered for its representation of freedom and power. A recurrent visual motif in the exhibition, it weaves together the tales of both Incan mythology and Bedouin heritage. In Perú, ‘Sacsayhuaman,’ Cusco’s sacred site, meaning “the place the Falcon is Satiated,” holds deep significance for the Incas, tying the falcon’s symbolism to the sun in their beliefs. This narrative coincides with the crucial role falcons played in Bedouin culture as means of survival and guidance, shaping distinct identities of the people of the Arabian Gulf.

Press release from Lawrie Shabibi

Image: Ishmael Randall Weeks. Chalkboard screen I. 2023. Brass, wood, rattan, grout. 60 x 35 x 6 cm. Photography by Ismail Noor of Seeing Things. Image courtesy of the artist and Lawrie Shabibi