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Layla Juma & Carolin Kropff

Layla Juma & Carolin Kropff



The exhibition will be accompanied by a text by Frankfurt-based philosopher Angelica Horn.

Layla Juma  is a multidisciplinary artist from the Emirates. An Artist as well as an architectural engineer, Juma is interested in compositions of visible and felt connections. Eperimenting with abstract concepts and physical forms, she explores links between elements of being. Her work is often open-ended yet balanced, where each composition presents a layer
of traced links.

A member of the Emirates Fine Arts Society since the early 2000s, Juma is among the third-generation of Emirati artists and takes inspiration from prolific UAE conceptual pioneers –including Hassan Sharif and Mohammed Kazem.
Layla writes about her work:
My multidisciplinary practice incorporates sculpture, drawing, painting, and digital art. I am interested in geometric shapes and the composition elements of shapes, such as lines and connection points. To me, these elements have expressive qualities to create new and infinite compositions, as seen in architecture and urban planning for example. They are also elements present in us, humans, and can be used to portray the tiniest creatures and immensity of the universe.

My approach relies on several techniques, including repetition, incompleteness, and infiniteness, or continuity in which a number of ways remain to complete the work and read its visual interpertations. My application of repetition is to assert the importance of a meaning or to assert the continuation and continuity of a visual idea that may sometimes lead to the making
of something else. My work also references human qualities and human nature through carefully placed visual imbalances and imperfections.

In 2021, Juma had a solo exhibition titled Squaring the Circle at Aisha Alabbar Gallery, Dubai, UAE. She participated in exhibitions in the UAE and internationally, including From Barcelona to Abu Dhabi: Works from the MACBA Art Collection in dialogue with the Emirates, Manarat Al Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi (2018); Portrait of a Nation’, Me Collectors Room, Berlin, Germany (2017); There Are Too Many Walls But Not Enough Bridges, Kunst(Zeug)Haus, Rapperswil-Jona, Switzerland (2015); Emirati Expressions III: Realised, Manarat Al Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi, UAE (2014); Mind - Dubai Contemporary, DUCTAC’s Gallery of Light, Dubai, UAE (2012); Singapore
Biennial (2008); and Cairo Biennial (2006).
Layla lives and works in Sharjah, UAE.

Aisha Alabbar Gallery

Carolin Kropff 's artistic work moves between the fields of fine arts, arts and crafts with a focus on traditional methods of production and socio-cultural aspects and art mediation. Her work includes various media such as painting, printmaking, textile art, and projects in the field of Socially Engaged Art (SEA).

Kropff explores the connection between personal experience and inherited, collective knowledge that is passed down from generation to generation. She investigates how images are created, the relationship between storytelling and assigning meanings, and the significance of the chosen material. She translates her observations and analyses into artistic processes that are informed by the chosen material, the medium, and specific production methods.

Sie exhibited in Germany and abroad, like: Inner City (G), Glue, Berlin, Deutschland (2022); ´Experimentelle Korrespondenzen´ (G), MACS - Museum für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Sorocaba, Brasilien und Ausstellungshalle 1a, Frankfurt/M, Germany (2016);

´Paradise Lost´ (E), WOLFSTÆDTER Galerie, Frankfurt/M, (2014); ´Re-Represented Portraits´ (E), Laboratoire d’Art Beirut, Libanon, (2012); 2011 ´MinD´ (G), DUTAC Dubai, VAE (2012); ´29EXH´ (G), Sharjah Art Museum Sharjah, UAE (2011); ´FataMorgana´ (E), XVA Gallery, Dubai, UAE (2010); ´Made in Tashkeel´ (G), Tashkeel (G), Dubai, UAE, (2008); ´Blachfeld´ (G), auswärts kunstraum Frankfurt/M, (2003); ´Stuttgart 17.7.1956 – Salem (Wis.) USA 3.3.1977´ (G), Portikus in Frankfurt, (1998); Kunsthaus am Tierpark (G), Dortmund (1994); ´Spektakel´ (G), Museum am Ostwall, Dortmund (1993); ´Kunststudenten stellen aus´ (G), Museum Beckum (1991).

Carolin lives and works in Frankfurt am Main and Bad Vilbel.

Transition and Connection

On the exhibition by Layla Juma and Carolin Kropff at Studiospace Lange Straße 31

by Angelica Horn


A very special balance is achieved by the two artistic positions of this one-evening exhibition of the series  „“, which are nevertheless so different. What they have in common is that both artists work with printed papers, which they cut up and collage - and then it becomes different.


Layla Juma, a trained architectural engineer, assembles cut-out pieces of checkered paper with smaller and larger blue-colored grids on a white Din A 4 sheet. There are one or more blank spaces on each, gaps without gridded paper, located at the edge or even in the middle of the sheet. The papers are usually placed in the normal position of vertical and horizontal order, but there is also twice a piece of paper turned 45 degrees.

In this way Layla Juma has created a structure on which her drawing work takes place and in which it has or can find an orientation.  Individual lines are drawn with ink in the respective terrain, whereby the viewer may puzzle over which was probably the first and which the next, perhaps the neighboring, which modifications resulted in the length and also the alignment of the respective lines and how the whole thing is systematically connected. There are horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines, many parallels; sometimes these behave like bundles to each other, then again there are completely open structures and relations, also frame-like and centering, diverging and converging. Each sheet is completely different.

This approach holds infinite possibilities that ultimately cannot be exhausted at all. Here we see ten results before us. "Specific Paths" (2022) is the title given at the bottom of each sheet with the number of the respective sheet, so that the viewer can also observe the development from sheet to sheet and think about the orienting function of the "terrain" and the cutouts. There is no system as to how these paths should be drawn, but they are specific - selected and particular in their expressive character both individually and in context. There seem to be rules, but not clearly defined ones.

The paths are created with a free hand. There is the respective transition from one intersection of the grid to the next, which can be along the box line or diagonally through the box. Pausing at the crossing point causes a dot-like condensation of the line. No path is given - the path must be found first. It is a matter of feeling and sensation.  There is no ready-made plan that just has to be carried out. There is the individual transition, the transition from one place to another, equipped with an inner systematics that creates a respective and unique order, which is the meaning and purpose of the whole and constitutes its specific expression and expressive content.


Carolin Kropff uses her own print works as source material. The trained bespoke tailor cuts these into geometric shapes, such as hexagons, triangles and rombs, and assembles them into autonomous structures, figures. It is a matter of fitting relationships of a formal as well as color nature - the individual parts must fit together and likewise to the whole that results from them. The essential thing is the combination and this must be found. In "Sterkie", for example (one of the three works shown from the "Tales" series of 2022/2023, 25 x 59 cm), the free, unframed object hanging on the end wall, reddish-brown surfaces and parts of surfaces give rise to a central almost oval shape, with black jagged forms on the sides, which again have a white frame. At the bottom is a shape that can be understood as a kind of anchoring, but also as a form of complementary closure. At the top there is a different part of the structure, with brownish tones and white, looser and at the same time more spread out in terms of area. Despite the difference between the upper and the lower part, there is no tension, but a complementarity that corresponds to the direction from top to bottom or vice versa.


The fascinating thing about this approach is that the color context does not correspond to the context of the geometric parts and yet does not contradict either. With all openness in detail, the result is a strict composition, which confronts the viewer in each case in a very unique character.  Opposites are united here, such as the soft and warm with the lacy and rather cold. The viewer may think of figurative associations, but not quite come to terms with it. In "Shine" (40 x 59 cm) we have to do with a combination of two perhaps flower-like structures, the upper lighter, with red centered, the lower dark, with a blurred red. In the case of the primarily blue, gray "Terould" (40 x 59 cm, both works are presented framed), we are dealing with a towering form that seems to be spatially structured, has a rather greenish, beige base zone at the bottom and thins out into light at the top. Also with this artistic method a scope is given, which goes into the infinite. Here, too, we are dealing with a very individual expressive content. Here it is a peculiar severity, which at the same time touches very specifically emotionally and is characterized by clarity and distinctness. These are figures that stand for themselves and as such approach the viewer.

Angelica Horn

                                                                                                         © Frankfurt am Main

Kindly supported by Kulturamt Frankfurt.


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