Albion Jeune Reopens With Alia Ahmad Exhibition 'Thought To Image'

by Christina Donoghue on 24 April 2024

After Albion Jeune's makeover at the hands of legendary British architect John Pawson, the Little Portland Street-based gallery reopens its doors with a new exhibition, Thought To Image by star-of-the-moment Alia Ahmad.

After Albion Jeune's makeover at the hands of legendary British architect John Pawson, the Little Portland Street-based gallery reopens its doors with a new exhibition, Thought To Image by star-of-the-moment Alia Ahmad.

Towards the end of last year, central London gained a new addition to its gallery scene thanks to Lucca Hue-Williams' Albion Jeune. Based on Little Portland Street, the 1,300 sq ft art space made its inaugural debut with the work of Danish multimedia artist Esben Weile Kjær whose stained glass interpretations bounced off the artist's hanging alien-esque sculptures, also temporarily housed in the space for Kjær's exhibition I Want To Believe. The opening caused just the right amount of buzz for Albion Jeune to leave an indelible imprint on the thoughts of collectors, curators and artists alike in and around the city but then, as was always planned by the young Hue-Williams - the gallery shut up shop quickly after. Why? Because minimalist master John Pawson had even bigger plans.

Alia Ahmad, Alwasm (2023), Oil on canvas, 555 x 430 cm, Commissioned by the Diriyah Biennale Foundation; Images courtesy of Alia Ahmad & the Diriyah Biennale Foundation, Photography by Abeer Sultan.

'I wanted to create a place where the quality of the light, space and atmosphere makes people feel comfortable and the focus falls naturally on the art', noted Pawson, who, together with Hue-Williams, worked on a complete overhaul of the gallery, making sure its transformation reflected the far-reaching ambitions Albion Jeune is already achieving, namely through their latest exhibition Thought To Image, which is set to open on 2 May and will spotlight the paintings of Saudi Arabian artist Alia Ahmad.

Curated by art critic and curator, Sacha Craddock, Thought To Image rides off the back of Ahmad's White Cube debut Terhal Gheim in Paris, where the artist's colour-dense murals have been on show since the beginning of March. Although presenting a different set of works for Thought To Image, Ahmad is an artist of devout consistency - her work rooted in a mediation of sorts regarding Saudi Arabia's vast landscapes and, in particular, the industrialised desert of Riyadh. Other inspirations come in the form of Sadu textiles (embroidery form in geometrical shapes hand-woven by Bedouin people), and the oldest form of the Arabic script called khatt (خط) - derived from the words 'line', 'design' and 'construction'. Key geological and topographical aspects are also present in Ahmad's depictions, many of which come from local flora of a chosen environment hence her characteristically dramatic colour palate, described by the press release as 'anything but reticent'.

Alia Ahmad, Ground 3 (2024), Oil on canvas, Courtesy the artist and Albion Jeune

It's in Albion Jeune's new space where Ahmad's works come alive like never before as her visual motifs and restless mark-making miraculously contrast and stand out against the gallery's minimalist backdrop envisioned by Pawson. 'For me, a project like this is never about grand architectural gestures', Pawson is quoted saying in the press release, a statement that only emphasises the idea of Albion Jeune being - above all - a key player in marking out a space to foster what can only be described as a 'global art world'. Speaking of Pawson's lauded design, Hue-Williams herself reckoned: 'John’s unique architectural language has transformed the space into a minimal jewel box in the heart of London', also taking the opportunity to note that 'the space was meticulously designed to enhance the art that Albion Jeune will present.'

Musing on the significance of Albion Jeune's reopening marked by Ahmad's paintings, Hue-Williams revealed to SHOWstudio that she is 'thrilled to inaugurate Albion Jeune with this landmark exhibition, curated by Sacha Craddock, at such a transformative moment for both Alia Ahmad and the gallery.' Ahmad also noted: 'It is an exciting moment for me to present my first solo exhibition in the UK at Albion Jeune. It’s wonderful to return to London after completing a degree at the Royal College of Art, and I look forward to sharing my latest work for ‘Thought To Image’ curated by Sacha Craddock, at the new gallery space!'

Hue-Williams' collaborative partnership with Pawson was christened with an image of the pair at the newly-designed Albion Jeune space by SHOWstudio director Nick Knight. Thought To Image will open to the public on 2 May and will remain on show until 12 June.

Portrait of Lucca Hue-Wiliams and John Pawson by Nick Knight, 2024



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