Dubai’s art world kicked off to an exciting start in 2016. The vast expansion of Alserkal Avenue has welcomed four new galleries since last year, adding over 76,200 square meters to effectively double its size for their 2016 program, which includes a wide range of events such as the Al Quoz Arts Fest. The Design District welcomed Sconci Gallery and Unique Gallery at the end of last year and the infamous Gate Village in DIFC, that houses Opera Gallery, Cuadro and Christie’s. With only a few weeks to go until the leading international art fair, Art Dubai, the city has been ignited with an art buzz, which is evidently going to continue through the year!
Dreams in Blue. The Year Philip Mueller Didn’t Wake Up
Philip Mueller, Carbon 12
18 January – 6 March
If you love to be transported to dreamlike ventures, Philip Mueller’s exhibition at Carbon 12 will not disappoint! It is a “dream-inspired road movie,” with fantasy characters ghostly presenting themselves between paint layers. Black flamingos and swans are presented for symbolic imagery, whilst the artist snaps you back from your fantasy with sharp juxtapositions. Tones of blue drape his canvases with interruptions of white spots of paint, which can be seen as white beacons that remind the viewer you are in a dream, and the daylight of reality is just beyond your eyelids. Disconnected, random and obscure objects dart the canvas between the layers of paint that imitate the loss of time and space we experience in dreams. Mueller plays on distortion and the amalgamation of reality and imagination.
Tammam Azzam, Ayyam
18 January – 3 March
Established Syrian artist Tammamm Azzam is renowned for his powerful thought-provoking digital media artworks that document the tragic events following the uprising in Damasus. In The Road, we see him return to painting for the first time since 2011 with large-scale artworks of broken homes, buildings and landscapes of Damasus. Upon entering the gallery, building debris is met at the viewer’s feet, and audio sounds of attempts to rebuild the city fill the space until your eye is drawn to the bottom of an endless staircase. Wreckage of homes pour onto the pathway of the gallery from the concealed staircase, forcing the viewer to step over the rubble to reach the second exhibition space. The artist encourages you to question how life goes on after mass destruction and devastation. The Road is strongly emotive and set in darkness, the observer steps out of Dubai momentarily as you step into Ayyam’s entrance to Damascus.
White Cube… Literally
Curated by Amanda Abi Khalil, Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde
18 January – 3 March
In 1936, Alfred H Barrs introduced the first white cube art display in his exhibition Cubism and Abstract Art, while he was the Director of MoMA in New York, which saw a dramatic shift in the way in which art was exhibited and showcased. Amanda Abi Khalil’s curated exhibition challenges the modern art world’s “white cube” exhibition format, where artworks stand alone with empty spaces between each piece, de-contextualized and against a plain, uninterrupted white wall. The artworks that are presented in White Cube… Literally each present their own concept and artist’s narrative, yet collectively the group exhibition makes a statement to challenge the manifestation of the “white cube” gallery by quite “literally” presenting variations of white cubes within a white cube gallery space.
Avega – The Passion and The Arrival of Vasco da Gama
Pushpamal N., 1X1 Art Gallery
11 January – 28 February
Pushpamal N. is a photo and visual artist based in Bangalore, India. Avega – The Passion and The Arrival of Vasco da Gama presents Pushpamal’s rich and dramatic photographs depicting episodes from the epic Ramayana. Pushpamal uses theatrical costumes and settings that make reference to 20th century cinema to stylize and narrate the dramatic Hindu tales of passion, intrigue, seduction and abduction. Amongst her photography, Pushpamal adds an installation space, which includes a school chalkboard that explains celestial navigation discovered by the 15th century Indian navigator known to Indians, Arabs and Chinese, allowing them to cross the Arabian Sea to India and vice versa. Europeans were relying on maps and charts during this time and “were ignorant of navigating uncharted seas.” The artworks are displayed against deep, dark reds, a rendering of a theatre curtain.
Kathryn Wilson, FN Designs
18 January – 14 March
Kathryn Wilson’s Saturate illuminates the ever-changing form of water. The circular shapes of the canvases invite you into the swirling motion of her paintings–the observer is taken into the depth of the artwork as though being transported amidst rip curls. The artist works with notions of sustainability, well-being, destruction and hope and entices you to think about the beauty and strength of this element and its essential role in our lives and the environment. Wilson’s interpretation of the movement of water is reminiscent of Turner and Kandinsky painting liquid and capturing its wild and free demeanor.
Mirrors of the Orient
Roland and Sabrina Michaud, The Empty Quarter
20 January – 12 March
French artists Roland and Sabrina Michaud present an exhibition demonstrating the beauty of Islamic culture through large-scale photographs. The two artists met in the 1950s and have since shared a life of traveling the Orient, discovering the mystic beauty of the landscapes and documenting its charm. Mirrors of the Orient reflects the beauty of Islamic culture and invites the viewers to make their own reflection onto it. Collectively, the exhibition gives a narrative of art and life, past and present through oriental miniatures and photography. Take the Michaud’s journey through ruined cities, Pamir Mountains, frozen rivers and Turkestan bazaars and fall in love with their tales of the Orient.
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