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b.1971, Constantine, Algeria

Adel Abdessemed grew up in the area of the Aurès Mountains in Algeria, and attended the École régionale des beaux-arts in Batna. He then studied at the École supérieure des beaux-arts in Algiers and left in 1994. Between 1994 and 1998, Abdessemed attended the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts in Lyon, in eastern central France. He then lived and worked in the Cité internationale des arts in Paris. In 2000 - 2001 he was a resident artist at P.S.1 in New York. After spending some time in Berlin, he returned in 2004 to Paris. He is also a French citizen.

Adel Abdessemed is a prominent figure in the international art scene. From drawing to video, from sculpture to installation, Adel probes in the wounds of our present. His work has been the subject, during the last thirty years, of numerous major solo exhibitions, at MoMA PS1 in New York, MIT List Art Center in Cambridge (Massachusetts), Magasin - Centre National d’Art Contemporain in Grenoble, at Parasol Unit in London, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Turin, Musée national d’Art Moderne - Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris for a retrospective, « Adel Abdessemed. Je suis Innocent » (2012), CAC in Málaga, or at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal. Two major monographic exhibitions take place in 2018: Otchi Tchiornie at the Musée du Grand-Hornu in Belgium, and L’Antidote at the MAC Lyon.

Adel Abdessemed had his first solo exhibition “Unlock” in Asia in 2019, presented by Tang Contemporary Art Hong Kong. His work has also been presented at four Venice Biennales (2003, 2007, 2011, 2015), where he received the Benesse Prize (2007), at two Biennales in Istanbul (2007, 2017), and in the Biennales of Havana (2009), Gwangju (2008), Lyon (2007), and São Paulo (2006). In 2010, he participated in the first Triennale in Aichi, in 2017 at the Triennale of Milan, and at the Triennale Oku- Noto in Suzu (Japan). In 2018 he participated at the Triennale Echigo-Tsumari Art. In the same year, he also took part in the Rencontres de la photographie d’Arles, where he exhibited a series of photographs and sculptures curated by Jean Nouvel. In 2015 he directed the scenography and light of Retour à Berratham, during the Avignon Festival, for the choreographer Angelin Preljocaj. In 2016, he was invited to draw the poster for the Avignon Festival and to create his project « Surfaces ». At the same time, the organization Bold Tendencies commissioned the work Bristow as part of its artistic program in Peckham (London).

Selected Press

RAM INTERVIEW|A Conversation with curator Larys Frogier “Adel Abdessemed’s art is like an invitation”

Three weeks after the opening of Adel Abdessemed’s solo show “An Imperial Message”, RAM had the special opportunity to interview the curator of this exhibition, Larys Frogier, the director of Rockbund Art Museum Shanghai. Inspired by Franz Kaftka’s short parable “An Imperial Message”, the artist carves out an introspective journey while integrating his own thoughts, creativity and trauma into his exhibition. He invites the audience to come up with their own unique interpretations, prompting their journey of self-exploration.

Adel Abdessemed: The world unfolds itself as we wait for the imperial message

Adel Abdessemed’s art is elusive and evokes a sense of ambiguity. He does not limit himself to a fixed medium nor artistic style. Instead, he manipulates, stretches and reinvents in a wide variety of approaches, whether that is through films, photography, sculptures, installations, or performances, all while developing a visual language that is unique to him. In some way, Adel Abdessemed’s art is like a Kafkaesque autobiography that documents the violent yet dream-like events that he encountered throughout his life. As a self-proclaimed “action painter”, Adel Abdessemed uses performance art to capture specific moments in time, expressing his strong disapproval of the oppression of individuals by religious and political systems. As the artist said, “the world is the one that is violent, not me.”

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