Hoda Tawakol’s practice is built on the twin pillars of wit and criticality. Her colorful, engaging textile works—collages, sculptures, installations—ripple with vitality, while tackling compelling issues of gender and bodily control. At once captivating and disarming, the works spring from a range of media, yet focus largely on the female body, its distortions and transformations across a woman’s lifecycle. The artist’s hallmark fabric sculptures of date palm trees, while stemming from the plant realm, wittily probe bodily questions of gender fluidity. This is a universe of transformation: the body forever hovers between physical and ethereal, reality and abstraction, presence and absence.
Tawakol herself is culturally liminal. Egypt-born, raised in France and Germany by an interchanging trio of ‘mothers,’ she not only navigates an ‘in-between’ that percolates through her identity, she layers this suspension into her practice. Her works are spirited—boisterous, wall-filling textile collages, rambunctious fabric installations, and plump sculptures that revel in the uncanny. Yet wrapped within these vigorous creations lie deeper questions around biopower, control, and corporal manipulation.
Tawakol’s practice vibrates with feminist energy. While her hand-dyed and intimately sewn textile pieces clearly signpost questions of women’s labor, she also interrogates the wider yet more insidious forces (social, biological, cultural) impacting the female body. Sculptural gestures of abstraction and manipulation probe gender restrictions; superposed grids and lattices conjure sensations of confinement, concealment, repression; allusions to ancient rituals and embodied practices fathom death and procreation. While her artistic strategy is focused—stay vivacious yet critical, vaguely salacious yet deeply earnest—her material mastery is vast. A diversity of unpredictable hand-dyeing techniques—batik, spotting, painting, tie-dye—vivify her textile work. Similarly, her watercolour and ink compositions on paper are the fruit of a teetering negotiation with chance, and a surprising relinquishing of control. Her sculptures, whether assertively figurative or cryptically morphed, enlist a variety of materials with which she consistently experiments.
Hoda Tawakol’s work has been exhibited in numerous institutions and galleries in Germany, including Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt, Weserburg Museum of Modern Art in Bremen, Religio Westfälisches Museum für religiöse Kultur in Telgte, Kunstverein in Hamburg, Kunsthaus in Hamburg and Produzentengalerie in Hamburg and in Berlin. Internationally, she has shown at Sfeir-Semler gallery in Germany and Lebanon, Beton Art Space in Denmark, and at 10th Velada Santa Lucía in Venezuela.
Her work appears in the following collections: The Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation (SHF), Abu Dhabi; The Progressive Art Collection, USA; Huma Kabakci Collection, Turkey, UK; Sammlung Haus N, Germany; Sohst-Brennenstuhl Collection, Germany, among others.