Artist interweaves feminist ideals with textiles
French-Egyptian artist Hoda Tawakol’s first Dubai exhibit, which is running at Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde until Jan. 3, is a timely contribution to the ever-evolving feminism discourse. Tawakol, whose work has been featured at the gallery since November, was inspired by her experiences growing up in France, Germany and Egypt. Tawakol has made a name for herself through the use of hand-dyed and sewn textile pieces, sculptures, fabric collages and works on paper.
Her work, which mimics female cycles of life in an attempt to deconstruct stereotypes, is inspired by the feminist movement of the 1970s. In fact, interwoven within her artwork are feminist ideals and blatant critiques of patriarchy. Like many, Tawakol wishes to quell the expectations placed on women. Her collection, entitled “Dolls,” is an expression of anger at women being objectified. In “Lures,” she uses a falconry hood, a tool normally used to calm the birds of prey, to symbolize the way in which men oppress powerful women they wish to subdue. Her artwork is masterfully done.
It is symbolic and almost interactive in a way that simple paintings cannot be. The pieces are so eye-catching, indeed, mesmerizing, not least through her use of captivating colour schemes, that they almost beckon a response. The exhibition is named after the main piece on display, a tapestry of black and red-coloured fabric from her series “Palm Trees.” The piece features hand-dyed textiles in Tawakol’s signature style.
The series, which she began in 2015, is inspired by her multi-cultural childhood. “Palm trees make me nostalgic,” the artist said. “They symbolize the Egypt of the 1940s and 1950s, the era of glamour, the golden age that I didn’t experience. At the same age, my playground in Europe had another kind of palm grove I found in the Palmengarten, a botanical garden in Frankfurt in Germany.”