Boyadgian dismantles the layers beneath ornamental tiles


March 2017

8 March to 28 April 2017

Al-Ma’mal and Gallery Anadiel, New Gate, Old City of Jerusalem

Open daily from 10am to 5pm except Saturdays and Sundays

Inspired by Palestine as a place at a juncture and subjected to repeated passage throughout history, Benji Boyadgian's exhibition, The Discord, dismantles the entangled layers and temporalities encompassed in the story of ornamental tiles. Through a painting process of repetition and mutating patterns, echoing the footprints that leave traces on the surface, Boyadgian attempts to look at what lies beneath these tiles.

Curated by Basak Senova and Jack Persekian, The Discord presents a project spanning over six years. The show consists of several series of watercolour paintings that reinterpret six patterns taken from ornamental tiles, in addition to three installations and a video. Unlike industrial or digital reproduction, the process that Boyadgian pursues is itself in a permanent state of mutation, a metaphor for history as a repetition of patterns and of surface as perpetual passage.  Boyadgian uses the medium of watercolour for its transparency, fragility and fluidity: “It’s a medium that cannot be corrected. Traces can’t be hidden and there is a permanence and spontaneity in the act”, he explains.

Ornamental tiles were invented in Spain in the middle of the 19th century, and began appearing in urban residences and institutions in Palestine around the turn of the 20th century, in the new residential neighbourhoods of the bourgeoning bourgeoisie. The ornamental forms, formerly an exclusive preserve, became more of a commodity and the timeless work of the craftsmen was gradually replaced by machines. Boyadgian embarked on this project on his return to Palestine six years ago after studying architecture in Paris. He was inspired by the eroded tiles seen in Palestine’s classic buildings, “these tiles, a by-product of their time, are in essence objects of discord, simultaneously a trace, an agglomeration and a projection.”

The exhibition is hosted by Al-Ma’mal, a space that was originally one of the early tile factories in Palestine, first established in 1900, now renovated and turned into a contemporary art space in 2012.

In conjunction with the exhibition, a catalogue edited by Basak Senova and published by Al Ma’mal, will be launched that documents Boyadgian’s artistic research as well as the artworks themselves. Through essays by Jack Persekian, Johnathan Habib Engqvist, Sinan Logie, Behzad Khosravi, Ali Akay and Lara Khaldi, and an extensive interview with the artist himself, the catalogue discusses the aesthetic, historical, political, social, and philosophical aspects around the project. An online version is being hosted by Ibraaz on

Notes to Editors

Benji Boyadgian

Benji Boyadgian (b. 1983, Jerusalem) studied architecture at ENSAPLV School of Architecture (L’Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Paris, La Villette), specializing in urban sociology in post-conflict areas. His solo shows are The Discord, Al Ma’mal, Jerusalem (2017); Traces, Art Rooms, Kyrenia (2016); A journey into Abstrabesque, Al Ma’mal, Jerusalem (2013); and Vanishing Landscapes, Al Kahf Gallery, Bethlehem (2010). Boyadgian has also exhibited in The Jerusalem Show VII: Fractures and The Jerusalem Show VIII: Before and After Origins, under Qalandiya International (2014 and 2016); Spinning On An Axis, Mario Mauroner Contemporary Art, Vienna (2014); Line, Art Rooms, Kyrenia (2015); Stepping Over the Borders, European Mediterranean Art Association (EMMA), Nicosia (2015); Shared Religious Places, Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilization (MuCEM), Marseille (2015); Skånes på Linero: De lovade oss en skola, de lovade en simhall, Skanes Konstförening, Lund (2016); Lines of Passage (in medias res), The Municipal Art Gallery of Mytilene, Lesbos (2016); Aqua, Château de Penthes, Geneva (2017).

Boyadgian attended the Young Artists Residency Program of Confrontation Through Art Project, organized by EMAA and Rooftop Theatre Group, Nicosia, and was a grant holder at IASPIS, Stockholm. He was co-awarded the Ismail Shammout Prize 2015 in Palestine and was a finalist of the Celeste Award 2016.


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