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News - 20th of August 2018

MEDIA RELEASE | A Self Portrait by Khaled Sabsabi

MEDIA RELEASE | A Self Portrait by Khaled Sabsabi

A Self Portrait by Khaled Sabsabi
Exhibition | 4 August – 7 October
Gallery open 10-5, Tuesday to Sunday
Exhibition Opening | Friday 3 August 6.30pm – 8.30pm

A Self Portrait is the most significant exhibition to date for Lebanese born and Australian-based Khaled Sabsabi. Curated by PICA Senior Curator Eugenio Viola, the exhibition features a selection of his works over an eleven year period, including those not previously exhibited and an entirely new piece, after which the exhibition is titled.

Sabsabi, who first exhibited at PICA in the 2005 Hatched National Graduate Show exhibition, has come full circle with this mid-career select survey that follows his recent acclaim at the 21st Biennale of Sydney and the 2018 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art.

Following the outbreak of civil war in Lebanon (1975-1990), Sabsabi migrated with his family to Australia in 1978. Since the late 1980s, he has been working with communities on projects promoting cultural awareness and acceptance through the exploration of place, identity, displacement and marginalisation.

Sabsabi’s work uses a variety of media, including video, photography, painting, textiles and multifaceted installations. It is heavily informed by Sufi spirituality, his own experience of moving between communities and geopolitical factors. A focal point for the exhibition at PICA is Sabsabi’s latest work, A self- portrait, comprising 114 individual pieces, each consisting of seven different layers, signifying the seven different segments of the ‘Nafs’ (Arabic, Persian and Urdu for ‘the self’).

Also on display will be a 4 metre wide hand embroidered ‘sanjaq’, a sacred cloth used for important Sufi rituals and ceremonies. Each Sufi order has many unique sanjaq cloths and the map embroidered on this sanjaq references the lineage of the various but interconnected Sufi orders of Sabsabi’s ancestors. The sanjaq also relates to two cities: Tripoli in Lebanon, where Sabsabi was born, and Danke in North Lebanon, which are both regarded as important centres for mystic Sufi orders and their histories. This work, Corner, brings into focus an understanding of how diverse geographies and philosophies can be linked through the movement and spiritual practice of people and place.

We are living in an upsurge of intolerance at every level, and too often people wrongfully connect terrorism with Islam, says Senior Curator Eugenio Viola“Khaled, like other Muslims around the world, is spreading awareness that Islam is a religion of peace. I hope this exhibition will help our understanding of the Islamic world.

Artist Biography
Khaled Sabsabi (born in 1965, Tripoli, Lebanon) lives and works in Sydney. He has held solo exhibitions at the Islamic Museum of Australia, Melbourne (2014), Artspace, Sydney (2012), 4A, Sydney (2009), Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts, Auckland (2007), Casula Powerhouse and Campbelltown Arts Centre, Sydney (2005). He has participated in the 3rd Kochi Biennale, 1st Yinchuan Biennale, 5th Marrakech Biennale, 18th Biennale of Sydney, 9th Shanghai Biennale, Sharjah Biennial 11, 1st Yinchuan Biennale, 3rd Kochi Muziris Biennale, 2018 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art and the 21st Biennale of Sydney. His work is present in private, national and international collections.

Dates and Times
Exhibition Dates | 4 August – 7 October
Gallery open 10-5, Tuesday to Sunday
Opening Night Party | Friday 3 August | 6.30pm – 8.30pm

Media Enquiries
For all media enquiries please contact Tracy Routledge, Publicist via:
e: ph: 0412 223 221

High resolution images available here.



The Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA) is one of Australia’s leading centres for the development and presentation of contemporary art.

Housed in a striking heritage building in the heart of Perth, Western Australia, PICA is the city’s focal point for those wishing to experience the best of Australian and international visual, performance and interdisciplinary art.

PICA is both a producing and presenting institution that runs a year-round program of exhibitions, seasons in contemporary dance, theatre and performance and a range of interdisciplinary projects.