F.C. GUNDLACH - The Middle East in the 50's and 60's









HODA TAWAKOL - Behind the Window





28th of April 2011 - 16th of July 2011

Opening on Thursday the 28th April 2011
from 7 to 9 pm in the presence of the artists


F.C. GUNDLACH: The Middle East in the 50's and 60's

Beirut - Sfeir-Semler Gallery is delighted to announce an exhibition of the photography of F.C. Gundlach, focusing on his fashion photography taken in Lebanon and Egypt in the 1950's and 1960's. The exhibition will open on April 28, 2011 from 7-9 pm, in the presence of the artist. On view will be over 60 vintage prints along with a selection of reprinted images made on the occasion of this exhibition.

A major figure in European fashion photography from the 1950's through the 1970's, Gundlach made a number of trips through the Middle East during a golden age of travel and cosmopolitanism throughout the region. In Lebanon, Gundlach captured a key moment of glamour with photographs taken throughout Beirut, at the Phoenicia Hotel, in Baalbeck, and on the wings of a PanAm airplane at the Beirut Airport. In Egypt, Gundlach's images paired the geometric look of "mod" fashion with a backdrop of the pyramids, pharaonic ruins andthe desert dunes. These black and white images show the Middle East as a junction of contrasts: at once modern and traditional, rough and refined, cosmopolitan and exotic.   

F.C. Gundlach was born in 1926 in Heinebach, Germany. Widely acknowledged as the pre-eminent German fashion photographer of the post-war period, Gundlach's images traced the changing culture and style of the mid-20th Century. In over 300 magazine covers and countless fashion spreads for magazines including Stern, Brigitte, Quick, Revue, Elegant Welt and Film und Frau, Gundlach articulated and reflected changing attitudes about fashion, beauty and culture. His photography traces the evolution of fashion from haute couture to prêt-à-porter, from the optimistic elegance of the 1950's through to the postmodernism of the 1970’s. In 1975, he began Galerie F.C. Gundlach, one of the first galleries in Germany devoted to photography. He also created a major collection of photographs over the past decades, and founded The House of Photography in Hamburg in 2003 with the donation of his personal collection. 


HODA TAWAKOL: Behind the Window

Beirut - Sfeir-Semler Gallery is pleased to present our first one-person exhibition of the French-Egyptian artist Hoda Tawakol.  The exhibition will open on April 28, 2011 from 7-9 pm, in the presence of the artist.

Tawakol's work first appears as a provocative engagement with materials -- her work ranges from layering and slashing bikini fabric, stretching and sewing nylon stockings, embroidering photographs with thread, and braiding masks out of hair. These actions and materials come together to probe at different representations of femininity. In her abstract works made of nylon and spandex, she reveals the way these everyday textiles of contemporary female fashion simultaneously conceal skin and mimic skin, becoming a kind of second skin. Tawakol stretches, layers and then slashes these brightly colored, often metallic fabrics to create "ornamental injuries", patterns of cuts that appear like lace or like tattoos, revealing this "skin" as a surface on which ideas about identity, beauty, tradition and transgression all play out with subtle ambiguity.  

With her embroidered portrait series, Tawakol extends this idea of the ornamental injury, using thread like a tattoo and sewing designs over photographic portraits printed on paper or fabric. The cosmetic gesture - something as benign as applying make-up - takes on remarkable force in these images, revealing beauty as a sometimes violent construction that reveals as much as it conceals. It is this interplay between revealing and concealing, between the surface and the interior, that runs through Tawakol's practice. In her "Hair" series, she has radically reversed the logic of the hijab. What should be hidden (the hair) becomes a mask or a veil itself. But behind this mask what remains is simply the empty volume of a person, and the woman imagined underneath disappears.  

Born in London in 1968 and raised primarily in Paris, Hoda Tawakol is an Egyptian artist who lives and works in Hamburg. She studied in the class of Andreas Slominski at the Hochschule für bildende Künste in Hamburg. Her work has been shown in a number of exhibitions in Germany, including “Leningrader Hängung nr. 101” at Ph-Project Gallery in Berlin, "The Freedom of Choice" at the Kunstverein Hamburg, "Index 10" at the Kunsthaus in Hamburg, and "Cut" at Produzentengalerie, along with "The Andreas Slominski Class Show: Meanwhile it shows" at the Velada Santa Lucia Art Festival in Maracaibo, Venezuela.