Curated by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev and Marianna Vecellio

September 19, 2017 – January 7, 2018


The Castello di Rivoli presents in the Manica Lunga the first retrospective dedicated to the Egyptian-Canadian artist of Armenian origins, Anna Boghiguian (Cairo, 1946).

The exhibition will then travel to the Sharjah Art Foundation in Sharjah (UAE), from March 16 to June 16, 2018.

Anna Boghiguian, whose studio and home are found in Cairo, lives and works in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. After studying political science at the American University in Cairo, in 1970 she moved to Canada where she studied art and music at Concordia University in Montreal. Her interests range from literature to philosophy and politics and are reflected in her drawings and paintings often made in encaustic which stand out for their instinctiveness and saturated colors. Her works combine figures and written text, thus turning the painting into a unified body able to effect all the senses and lead the viewer into an empathic dimension with the world. Besides painting, the artist uses numerous languages of expression such as sculpture, photography, writing, and sound. Her collages incorporate objects and cut-outs of printed images. “Her installations and environmental works offer a unique interpretation of the experience of journeys and contemporary human beings, poised between past and present, poetry and politics, impassioned gaze and critical observation,” states Marianna Vecellio, the exhibition’s curator.

Born into an Armenian family with first-hand experience of the diaspora and that tremendous exodus, Anna Boghiguian developed the urgency of cultural cosmopolitanism well before the advent of globalization. Almost as if protecting her studio from the violence and disturbances in the Middle East, in spring 2017 the artist moved the furniture and objects from her atelier in Cairo to the Castello di Rivoli, recreating on the Museum’s third floor the surroundings she holds dear: rooms overflowing with works and drawings, jars of pigment, rugs, Oriental objects, and early works never shown to the public before.

A nomad at heart, Anna Boghiguian has always been a citizen of the world: during her numerous trips, from one city to the next, one continent to another, she immerses herself in the places and sounds of cities as well as in the literature, poetry, and political-social dimension. Though keeping the distance of an outside observer, she grasps the contradictions and unease of today’s man.

The artist stood out on the international scene by taking part in the project curated by Catherine David, Contemporary Arab Representations, presented in 2003 at the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam; Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona; BildMuseet, Umeå, and Centro José Guerrero de la Diputación, Granada, for which she created a series of works that evolve according to an actual narrative. Her works have been exhibited at the Thessaloniki Biennale (2007), 11th International Istanbul Biennial (2009), 10th Sharjah Biennial (2011), dOCUMENTA (13) (2012), Kassel, Bienal de São Paulo, 1st International Biennial of Contemporary Art Cartagena (2014), 14th International Istanbul Biennial (2015), and 12th Sharjah Biennial (2015). Her most recent solo shows include Promenade dans l’inconscient (A Walk in the Unconscious) at Carré d’Art, Nîmes, 2016. At dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, Anna Boghiguian made a name for herself in the art world for the vigor and effectiveness of her works, which for their uniqueness stand apart from customary and traditional official art. With her presence, three years later, in the 56. Venice Biennale (2015), Anna Boghiguian was one of the artists who exhibited in the Armenian Pavilion and was awarded the Golden Lion for the best national participation.

Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev writes: “Anna Boghiguian’s exhibition reconfirms our Museum’s vocation to analyze the cultural dialogue in today’s world characterized by migrations, wars, and crises, and to anticipate contemporary artistic developments. Starting from her hand-made artist book in the 1980s up to her latest large installations, Anna Boghiguian unravels and opens a time-space folded over upon itself, as she creates an experimental language of abundance and inclusion able to convey empathy and engage the public.”    

For the exhibition, a catalogue in English and Italian has been published by Skira, with a section of previously unseen works dedicated to Nietzsche in Turin and made expressly for this publication; the catalogue also offers essays by the curators and a comprehensive timeline with a critical anthology, biography, and bibliography.


The exhibition will be presented at the Sharjah Art Foundation of Sharjah (UAE) from March 16 to June 16, 2018, curated by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev and Hoor Al Qasimi.