Press Release

Art Now: Zeinab Saleh 19 January - 23 June 2024

Zeinab Saleh, Early Morning, 2024

This month, Tate Britain will unveil a new series of delicate and intimate paintings and drawings from Kenyan-born, London-based artist Zeinab Saleh. Suggesting both fleeting movement and suspended time, these works draw on everyday experiences, personal encounters and the dreamlike quality of memory. This is the latest in Tate Britain’s ongoing Art Now series of free exhibitions showcasing emerging talent and highlighting the latest developments in contemporary British art.

Saleh’s new body of work for Tate Britain has been made using acrylic paint, charcoal and soft pastels. Through her materials and colour palette, the viewer is invited into a place of calm contemplation. Her paintings and drawings are ambiguous in subject and setting. Layers of time and meaning are projected onto the works through recurring patterns and silhouettes, alluding to narratives that are rarely fully revealed.

Zeinab Saleh is a multidisciplinary artist whose unique visual language sees the use of acrylic, charcoal and chalk swept across the canvas, revealing depths of texture. Shade and colour are presented in tender, pale hues. Within her work, she aims to provide ‘spaces for the viewer’s imagination to continue the painting’, encouraging prolonged and active looking. These light, delicate spaces are occupied by forms which appear to float, only becoming temporarily grounded as the viewer’s gaze is drawn to heavier areas of acrylic paint. Saleh describes this effect as a ‘temporal shift’ between movement and stillness. The recurring motifs which populate her works act similarly, slipping between representation and abstraction. The power of these ethereal paintings and drawings is held in their ability to both invite and escape immediate interpretation.

Since the 1990s, Tate Britain’s Art Now exhibitions have recognised talent at its outset and have provided a launching platform for artists who have gone on to become established figures on the international art scene. Recent exhibitions in the series have showcased the work of artists including Rhea Dillon, Hannah Quinlan and Rosie Hastings, Shawanda Corbett and Danielle Dean.