Diana Al-Hadid’s first solo exhibition with Kasmin Gallery, Women, Bronze, and Dangerous Things, will span both 509 West 27th Street and the Kasmin Sculpture Garden from November 2–December 22, 2023. Featuring an extensive new body of work developed over the last five years, the exhibition underscores the artist’s singular approach to relief and large-scale sculpture alongside a new series of mixed media drawings on Mylar, as well as works on paper pulp developed as part of her residency at Dieu Donné, New York. Known for her evocative transformations of industrial materials such as fiberglass, gypsum, steel, and bronze, Al-Hadid’s works engage with thematic references across the fields of antiquity, folklore, architecture, manuscripts, cartography, and cosmology, among other subjects, as a way of communing with the present.
Across Al-Hadid’s use of motifs in this exhibition—which includes figures from Greek mythology alongside protagonists in Islamic and Christian narratives—the artist’s contemporary interpretations intuitively navigate different attempts of reading the future through our past. Constructions in nature such as mountains and caves reappear as emblematic elements of landscape tied to the social, psychological, and religious narratives that have been absorbed into dominant culture over the centuries. Indifferent to where these narratives find their origin in theology, Al-Hadid’s method of retrieving stories both communicate with history and imagine them anew. At once prophetic and autobiographical, Al-Hadid’s sensitive installation across two sites of the gallery’s architecture articulates a realm that manifests, both physically and metaphorically, above ground and below.
The exhibition title borrows its structure from a book by American linguist and philosopher George Lakoff, Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal About the Mind, published in 1987. Citing the importance of categorization to human cognition, a necessary impulse in the development of the psyche and the evolution of our species, Al-Hadid considers the complex facets of identity and understanding intrinsic to the immigrant experience. Several works, such as Head for the Hills and The Seven Sleepers and the Dog, reference ideas and motifs that can be traced back to the artist’s Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship in 2021.
For the first time since the opening of Kasmin’s flagship gallery in 2018, the exhibition in the gallery will be accompanied by an installation on the Kasmin Rooftop Sculpture Garden by the same artist. In Mortal Repose (2011), Al-Hadid’s first figurative bronze and a seminal work in the artist’s oeuvre, will be installed on the roof adjacent to Double Standard (2023), her newest outdoor bronze sculpture, which presents an inversion in which the stacked figures are adjoined at the neck, creating a symmetrical composition.
Founded in 1976, Dieu Donné is the leading nonprofit cultural institution dedicated to the use of hand papermaking processes in contemporary art. Through extensive collaborations with Master Papermakers, Dieu Donné introduces emerging and established artists from a wide variety of practices to the creative possibilities in hand papermaking – fostering experimentation and creating innovative works of art.
The exhibition runs concurrently with Al-Hadid’s major site-specific project for the upcoming NGV Triennial at The National Gallery of Art, Australia, which opens on December 3.
Press release from Kasmin Gallery
Image: Diana Al-Hadid. Installation view of Women, Bronze, and Dangerous Things at Kasmin Gallery, New York City, 2023. © Diana Al-Hadid. Image courtesy of the artist and Kasmin Gallery