Azza El Siddique & Teto Elsiddique
fire is love, water is sorrow — a distant fire

Anaïs Castro
Towards Gallery, Toronto
September 23 — November 6, 2021
Azza El Siddique & Teto Elsiddiquefire is love, water is sorrow—a distant fire, exhibition view, 2021.
Photo : Laura Findlay Documentation, courtesy of the artists; Towards Gallery, Toronto
Towards Gallery, Toronto
September 23 — November 6, 2021
[En anglais]

Azza El Siddique and Teto Elsiddique’s exhibition fire is love, water is sorrow — a distant fire at Towards is the encounter of two bodies of work, one generated from the other in a thoughtful expression of love and grief. The series of paintings are the last ones Teto Elsiddique made before his tragic death in 2017. For this exhibition, Azza El Siddique conceived a large metal scaffold to hold her brother’s paintings, alongside a series of metal pieces she created in direct response to his work. In the exhibition, each painting finds its sculptural counterpart, a formal twin with which it is coupled. Through this gesture of replication, Azza had to carefully consider each of her brother’s paintings, studying them by heart to weld their portrait on the metallic surface. The sculptural works, devoid of colours, only retain the essence of the painting to which they speak. They simply, yet effectively trace the contours of the shapes imaged by Teto in his studio. In this way Azza’s works are quasi-spectres, made only more elusive by their reflective surface.
Azza El Siddique & Teto Elsiddique
fire is love, water is sorrow—a distant fire, exhibition view, 2021.
Photo : Laura Findlay Documentation, courtesy of the artists & Towards Gallery, Toronto

Both the paintings and their metallic doubles are intimately nestled within a metal structure that occupies the gallery’s entire exhibition space. In fact, this architectural frame has been designed from the floorplan of Towards’s former space at 87 Wade Ave., mirroring an analogous gesture of duplication present within the smaller pieces described above. It becomes evident that this is a project that deals with things that no longer are. There is an undeniable attempt to pursue a connection to a distant, yet palpable past that remains charged with emotion and affection. That being said, fire is love, water is sorrow — a distant fire is just as much about the past as it is about the future. The exhibition text addresses the impossibility of returning — to something, to someone, to one’s own self. In this way, the exhibition is about how we carry the past forward in an attempt to achieve, in Teto’s words, “a kind of connective tissue through history.”

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