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01.05.24 - 01.27.24

Opening Reception:

Friday January 5th 6-8pm

On view until January 27th 2024

15 Monroe St, 10002 NYC


IRL is pleased to announce Massoud Hayoun's debut solo show in NYC, Harissa, opening Friday Jan, 5th 2024 at IRL Gallery in NYC. 


Born in 1987, Massoud Hayoun is an award-winning author and investigative journalist turned visual artist. His intimate and autobiographical works pay homage to his Tunisian and Moroccan-Egyptian grandparents. Although very deeply personal, the works are inherently political, interwoven with contemporary global cultural politics. As an Arab, Jewish and Queer young artist, Massoud Hayoun explores his multi-faceted identity through visual narratives that flirt with a strong sense of subversive wit.

By visually narrating the personal histories of his grandparents, Hayoun is not commenting on the immense and unique legacy of Jewish Arabness. Rather, his oeuvre is an attempt to express the eternality of the humancondition. "The experiences I describe in many of the paintings are Arab but also universal. They are experiences of joy and happiness, indignation and sorrow, and re-emergence." 


Artist Statement:
"When I depict my family — my North African grandparents who raised me in Los Angeles — and myself hollowing peppers of their power, we are destroying the patriarchy. Insofar as most autocratic and colonial regimes in recent memory have espoused very rigid views of gender binaries, we are demanding accountable governance and autonomy. And insofar as the culture of domination, war, and oppression is frequently male, when we empty peppers for harissa, we are disempowering the men in the halls of power who threaten us around the world but particularly in the U.S. in an election year.

By harissa, I mean subversion. And yet harissa-making is a form of housework — a form of the servitude my grandmother was brainwashed into thinking was her role in life. Harissa is a vibrant but also a very messy answer to the world’s problems. I contradict myself, in the way my grandmother who raised me was both a radical mind — she co-authored my first book on the Arab identity — and a dutiful housewife and mother. I contradict myself with my harissa in the way her homeland of Tunisia vacillates between being one of the most women’s-liberation-oriented and democratic nations in the Arab world and then regresses into male-dominated autocracy.

While it is a potent symbol of the anti-institutional and not without its own layers of complexity, harissa is only the most obvious and readily accessible of the symbols in these paintings. As for the rest of the true stories that I am telling in these paintings — urgent stories at the cross-section of the political and the deeply personal — it is my custom to yield to you the right of interpretation."

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