Born in Lebanon, Ramzi Mallat is a multidisciplinary artist based between London and Beirut. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art from Lancaster University and a Masters degree in Sculpture from the Royal College of Art. Mallat has been appointed a Trustee for the IMOS Foundation in the United Kingdom and was selected as one of Forbes Middle East’s 30 Under 30 Honorees in 2022. The artist participated in various solo and group exhibitions internationally, notably at the UNESCO Palace (2017), the Cervantes Institute (2018) in Beirut, Lebanon. His most recent short film/documentary, which portrays an amalgamation of the series of contemporaneous crises occurring in Lebanon, has been awarded the 'Official Selection' laurel by the Story International Student Film Festival in Cork, Ireland. His work was also featured in the first issue of FORM, an online access journal published by Villa-Legodi Center for Sculpture in collaboration with the Nirox Foundation in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Ramzi Mallat’s artistic practice epitomizes a profound exploration of origins. Embracing the complexities of cultural identity within our ever-globalized society, Mallat forges a visual language that becomes a personal and evocative reflection of the human condition. Drawing from a rich tapestry of theological and folkloric knowledge from the Levant region, his work challenges the conventional notion of tradition as a civilizational legacy, revealing a narrative constructed by a society’s cultural vanguard in the course of a struggle.
The artist deftly navigates the intricate interplay between capitalism, labor, and everyday life, illuminating the mechanisms by which meaning is produced within our society. Through this visual lexicon, Mallat forms a nuanced tableau where collective consciousness is challenged by the tumultuous sociopolitical landscapes faced by nations and individuals alike.
Mallat's works serve as a steadfast embodiment of resistance, characterized by its ceaseless motion, the poetry it exudes, and its captivating beauty. Rooted in the investigations and the unearthing of suppressed historical narratives, his works become tools that defy displacement, expulsion, and the perils of erasure. Mallat's artistic vision is one of self-definition, committed to the pursuit of shaping our identities on our own terms.
History and myth intertwine through the juxtaposition of politics and lived experience, challenging the supremacy of state power by embracing the openness of the future. Through this investigation, he unveils the transformative potential of age-old materials, (such as cast bronze, ceramic, glass...) infusing them with contemporary relevance and elevating them to the status of discursive art forms where tradition and innovation coalesce. Even in the most monumental of his creations, Mallat subtly weaves notions of fragility and loss, providing a poignant reflection of the pervasive instability and unpredictable violence that permeate our world today.
Billow and Behold, 2022
This sculpture is an emblematic representation of the widespread belief in the evil eye’s folkloric power to repel the envious gaze of the other. The artist toys with distorting this loaded symbol to reveal it not only as a marker of inequality but also a redresser of corruption in small-scale social groups, unraveling opaque histories and translating them as indicators of personal, social and political identities.
Medium:Glass and epoxy resin
Size:26 x 7 x 6 cm
Means To No End, 2022
With a title that reinterprets the popular machiavellian idiom, this work questions the power sharing of hierarchical structures in relation to the seemingly infinite distribution of finite resources and the abuse of communitarian systems which relate to the bodily. Encapsulating the fluidity inherent in heritage, the artist proposes a cyclical manifestation of the enigmatic relationship between the ambiguous contemporary sociopolitical climate, and the intangible ephemerality of cultural and national identity which is collectively reshaped through a fragmentation of individual perspectives.
Shock & Awe, 2022
These works are a palimpsest illustrating a known Arabic saying which translates to “Magic of the East”, and is then read as “Magic of Evil” as the last letter fades from the composition. Through this tempting suggestiveness, the artist oscillates between the dichotomy of perspectives in which the Middle East is seen: a political vision of reality structured to promote differences which are reminiscent of the familiar and the strange. Based on the artist’s handwriting, the Arabic calligraphy portrayed, which is inspired by motifs of the Arabian sword, or “seif”, has been used in producing a neon sign as well as a series of prints. These works offer a commentary on the notion of the Orient which vacillates with the West’s contempt for what is recognizable and its novelty harboring potential for delight fear and violence.
Medium:Ink on paper
Knacker's Yard, 2022
This wall-mounted sculpture is a minimal trompe-l’œil. A subtracted rendering of the Lebanese Parliament building, it depicts in an acute angle the shell of an archaic political institution. Built in 1934 by Lebanese-Armenian architect Mardios Attounian during the French mandate, the building encompasses elements of Lebanese traditional architecture and Beaux-Arts designs, a relationship still apparent in the skeletal framework of the piece. This in turn highlights the deeply rooted external geopolitical influences still apparent in the country. The triptych lends itself useful in showcasing the divide of political influence among the three most predominant religious sects. Its triangular shape underlines subordination in relation to the hierarchal distribution of power. Inspired by Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan, the devoid artwork portrays the State as a fragile entity in the aims of questioning sovereignty by acquisition, illusions of power, and criticize concepts of justice and civil rights in such a monopolized institution.