There’s some serious information overload in Mandy El-Sayegh’s art. News, magazines, the internet, pornography, advertising and poetry are all splashed across the gallery walls, glued and smudged in place. At the root of El-Sayegh's work is a particularly modern condition: how do we navigate a world so inundated with information.
One wall is lined with big printed images, pictures of banknotes and pages from the Daily Mail overlaid with drawings of faces and suggestive oral shapes. Huge grid paintings line another wall, snippets of newspaper headlines and blown-up nudes poking out beneath the rough marks. The floor is plastered with pages from the Financial Times, scribbled with Arabic calligraphy and maps, all sticky underfoot.
But the best works are the vitrines in the middle of the room, filled with magazines, paint, melted soap and mounds of goopy wax and hair. They’re horizontal works of abstraction, filled with thousands of meanings to untangle.
Throughout the show, you walk on and among the art, dwarfed and overwhelmed by the imagery, surrounded by the infomartion.
Her work feels like it fits neatly into the history of abstract art, with a huge nod to the ‘combines’ of Robert Rauschenberg. But it’s not about just one thing, it's not just abstraction or sculpture. Instead, it’s countless, endless bits of information constantly bubbling and boiling over. El-Sayegh’s work is a heady collision of found imagery, literature, painting and sculpture; a riot of signs and symbols that clash and interact. That can feel confusing, and the unreadable gallery text doesn’t help. But you can find whatever meaning or narrative you want in El-Sayegh’s chaos, and the one overriding feeling is that this is art about navigating now, and it’s doing it really well.