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Two steps at a time

This summer, Nottingham Contemporary will present the second-ever institutional exhibition of the artist Hamid Zénati (1944–2022), following his recent show at Haus der Kunst in Munich. Zénati was a self-taught artist who, over a 60-year career, worked on a vast range of media and across disciplines after moving to Germany to Algeria in the 1960s to work as a translator. Zénati’s innovative creativity found form in textiles, fashion, ceramics, photography and painting, all tied together by the unique abstract visual language seen most powerfully in his textile paintings. As part of the summer-long exhibition Salma Tuqan, director of Nottingham Contemporary, invited the young Yemeni-British designer Kazna Asker to collaborate within the context of the exhibition, bringing her work into dialogue with that of Zénati through the form of a fashion show and live event on June 22, 2024.

“Kazna’s work reminds us of our power, agency and role within society, individually and collectively,” Tuqan explains “We were excited to bring into conversation the practices of Kazna and Hamid, drawing together two strong voices, past and present, whose work is uncompromising, entrenched, informed and wcirculated by community.”

Asker’s work also draws on the values of community, activism and heritage, joining the codes of streetwear with traditional clothing and fabrics from her Yemeni background. “I was really drawn to Hamid as both our creative worlds centre around the values of collective culture and story-telling,” Asker explains. “I resonated with his choice of colour, shapes, textiles and fashion as his artistic approach reminded me of my family and the community I grew up around.”


Above, courtesy the Hamid Zénati Estate. Below, Sheffield community captured by Farid Renais Ghimas. Courtesy Kazna Asker.




“I chose these images based on Hamid’s work – its colours, shapes, silhouettes or people – and each image reminded me of a different memory within my own practice. As seen in the images, I really admire how he experimented with so many different mediums to express himself, but always incorporated the human element throughout everything.”

– Kazna Asker


Opposite: above, courtesy the Hamid Zénati Estate. Below, MA Collection. Courtesy Kazna Asker


LFW Presentation by Sandra Nagel. Courtesy Kazna Asker.


Courtesy the Hamid Zénati Estate. 


Above left and top opposite, courtesy the Hamid Zénati Estate. Above right and bottom opposite, Ella Barrett and Jashan Walton, BTS of the Simon Wheatley shoot at Reach Up Youth Centre, Sheffield. Courtesy Kazna Asker


“Rooted in solidarity and creative expression, their work is testament to the intuitive spirit of making, upcycling and re-imagining everyday material into works of art. Playing with an intermingling of cultures, their works carry encoded meanings, becoming itself an act of translation and storytelling.”

Salma Tuqan


Opposite: above, courtesy the Hamid Zénati Estate. Below, LFW Presentation, British Fashion Council, @remainsofd. Courtesy Kazna Asker


Courtesy the Hamid Zénati Estate. 



LFW Presentation, by Farzana, @textbookbeauty. Courtesy Kazna Asker.