Faisal Samra is part of a generation of contemporary Arab artists who have assimilated the dictates of figurative culture yet broken away from the classic avenues of representation to sunder a host of taboos and dogmas. His work intermixes performance art with video, installation and photography. A recurrent theme is the body, which becomes a territory where geographies and cultures meet and intermix, unite or stand in counterposition.
Many of his works represent the artist, cloaked in masks, veils, or bandages that conceal his face. He contorts into complexly gnarled postures which at times make him look as if he is suffocating, trying desperately to free himself. These expressive images evoke an existential torment à la Francis Bacon, an emotional and spiritual force.
A Saudi national born in Bahrain, graduating from the Paris École des beaux-arts, Faisal lives and works in Bahrain and Paris. Sharing a plurality of cultures and nurtured in the soils of different seas, the artist is particularly intent on articulating the individual-collective dichotomy.
In her essay on Faisal Samra, Roxana Azimi offers us an angle on the artist that allows us to better appreciate his attitude and approach. She probes his images to reveal their tremendous polysemic richness. In his biography, Gilles de Bure invites us to follow the artist’s path, amplifying its resonance with the contemporary world.