Zeinab Saleh (b. 1996, Nairobi, Kenya) is a London-based artist whose interdisciplinary practice takes the form of painting, drawing and video. Drawing from everyday experiences, VHS tapes of home video footage and music, Saleh’s work offers a glimpse into a past world and places personal histories at its core.
Softest place (on earth) presents a new body of work that meditates on the stillness in which it was produced over this past year. Forms and figures emerge as layers of charcoal are removed from the canvases, revealing a depth of field behind masked areas and silhouettes. Conjured in muted colours and fluid lines and forms, Saleh’s subjects – which include swans, a cat, snake, or hand and the vegetal arabesques traced by leaves and tendrils – appear like apparitions in the shrouded atmosphere of a dream or memory.
The exhibition’s title references both the textural softness of charcoal and the diffuse mood of the moments captured. In an emotive process of discovery and rediscovery, Saleh uncovers stories and hidden memories that connect the personal with the collective experience of others: finding the particular within the universal.
Saleh’s studio-based practice is intimately intertwined with a community-building element; she co-founded Muslim Sisterhood – an artistic collective working within photography, fashion, publishing and events to create an inclusive community that centres Muslim women.
Saleh is one of two artists resident at Metroland Studio in Kilburn, as part of a new partnership between Camden Art Centre and Metroland Cultures, the charity established to deliver Brent’s year as London Borough of Culture and its legacy beyond 2020. Each artist is provided with a 6-month offsite residency and space at Metroland Studio preceding an exhibition of their work at Camden Art Centre.
Zeinab Saleh (b.1996, Kenya) lives and works in London. She received her BFA from Slade School of Fine Art in 2019. Recent group exhibitions include Nour el Ain, Karma International, Switzerland (2021), After Image, MAMOTH, London (2020), Zeinab Saleh and Yuko Mohri, mother’s tankstation, London (2020), The Poetics of the Neighbourhood Rascals, Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam (2019), A patch of green in London, Cookhouse Gallery, London (2019).The Age of New Babylon, Lethaby Gallery, London (2018). Redress, UCL Art Museum, London (2018), Widening the Gaze, Slade Research Centre, London (2018)
Generously supported by Ben Rawlingson-Plant and by Metroland Cultures in partnership with Brent Council, Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.