Jumshed Qaisar paintings at Mussawir Art Gallery

A little while back, I stopped by at Mussawir gallery and I couldn’t help but be completely drawn into Jumshed Qaisar’s amazing Islamic calligraphy pieces.

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Born in Lahore, Qaisar is a renowned artist specializing in his unique interpretation of Arab calligraphy. As well as all over Pakistan, his work has been exhibited in countries such as Russia, Kuwait, Moscow and UK.

What I really loved about his pieces is how they are spiritually inspired yet still very beautiful, aesthetically. I like how he incorporates the lettering in a very unconventional way.

Traditionally, calligraphy is created in a linear way from right to left, but the artist uses the letters more like patterns to creatively fill in spaces and so he produces the most unique, abstract masterpieces.

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I like how the letters intertwine with each other and how he combines the calligraphy with other elements such as shape, form and colour as well as his clever use of negative space.

The letters vary from intricate and delicate to thick, bold and pronounced, while still keeping consistent and harmonious as a whole.

His choice of colour palette is beautiful and tasteful, sticking to just a few complementary bold shades which really make a statement.

I like the unexpected zing of lime green in this one.

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As well as the tiniest sliver of orange in this monochrome one. It really works, visually.

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Blending classic tradition with innovative, contemporary abstraction, his work exudes all the mystery of Arabia.

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The Big Picture Opening Night

So imagine that you are in an art gallery featuring an array of local UAE artists.

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You’re nibbling on canapes as you chat with your arty friends. Everything is pretty laid back and chilled out and you’re enjoying looking at all the impressive artwork. You turn to your left and BOOM!

Salvador Dali, The Horse Series,  Swan

Salvador Dali, The Horse Series, Swan

A Dali.

An ORIGINAL, honest-to-goodness Salvador Dali which is so close you can just reach out and touch it!

No need to go all the way to Barcelona to have this experience; it happened right here in Pro Art Gallery, Jumeirah on the opening night of The Big Picture on May the 5th.

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Curated by artist Ram Nath, The Big Picture is now in its second edition and is under the patronage of His Highness Shiekh Khalid Bin Mansour Al Thani.

As well as Dali, other legendary artists that were featured at the exhibition included Banksy, Picasso, Andy Warhol, Roy Liechtenstein and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol

Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol

Roy Lichtenstein, Cow Going Abstract

Roy Lichtenstein, Cow Going Abstract

All their original works were exhibited side by side with 45 local artists from the UAE. The best part was there were no walls or barriers separating the legends from the contemporaries.

Vahid Danaiefar, untitled 2, Oil on board,

Vahid Danaiefar, untitled 2, Oil on board,

Luis Vazquez, The Path of the Foxes, Acrylic on Canvas

Luis Vazquez, The Path of the Foxes, Acrylic on Canvas

Kevin Badni, Big head, Sculpture

Kevin Badni, Big head, Sculpture

“The idea of including internationally renowned legends and UAE based artists supported the main goals of The Big Picture, which is to demolish any boundaries or categorization that may limit the artists or their thought processes.” Nath explains.

The exhibition has alot of diversity as it explores multifaceted artistic creations featuring painting, photography, sculpture, digital art, performance art, installation as well as sound and video arts, by emerging and established artists.

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The gallery was packed with an assortment of art aficionados soaking up the atmosphere.

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The interesting part about this exhibition was it had a highly personal touch as there was an audio guide available.

It allowed the viewer to wander around at his/her own pace with headphones on and listen to each artist talk about their themes and inspirations behind their pieces.

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The energy was infectious and the talent was indeed awe-inspiring.

Reem Albanna, Hazy Reality, Oil on Canvas

Reem Albanna, Hazy Reality, Oil on Canvas

Zoya Tariq, Imprisoned in a mistaken identity, Photography

Zoya Tariq, Imprisoned in a mistaken identity, Photography

Eduardo Yup, Face the Reality, Acrylic on fiber matt

Eduardo Yup, Face the Reality, Acrylic on fiber matt

Resurger, Liberty 2, Screen print,

Resurger, Liberty 2, Screen print,

Aleksandar Bezinovic, Annunciation, Acrylic on Canvas

Aleksandar Bezinovic, Annunciation, Acrylic on Canvas

Here are a couple of photos of my work at the exhibition …

My work at the gallery

Free as a Bird, acrylic on board,

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Thanks to The Big Picture, someday I can brag to my future grandkids that I was featured in the same exhibition as Picasso!

If you have not seen it yet, you’d best skedaddle as the exhibition continues until the 24th of May!

Abu Dhabi Book Fair

I was certainly a busy bee from the 30th to the 5th of May!

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This year, I had participated in the Abu Dhabi Book Fair to promote my work as a children’s book illustrator. I was also looking for potential publishers for my latest book project. (hint hint)

I was really impressed by how huge and well organised the fair was. The illustrator’s corner was situated RIGHT next to publishers so it was perfect for my ongoing pursuit!

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The fair is not just for sitting still in the corner in silent bookworm mode, though!

Infact, it was actually quite interactive and action packed! There were lots of seminars on the agenda everyday on various topics such as culture and tourism, book launches, career strategies and so forth.

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I noticed there was some artistic activities for children to participate in so there was something for everyone!

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I must admit, I got a little bit bored of sitting around acting prim and well behaved so I decided to paint my booth walls on the last day! I always wanted to do murals on the wall for children’s room so it was great practice for me to just go to town.

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I decided to paint a mermaid – I had always done mythical fashion illustration ones in the past, so for this one I wanted her to look child like, sweeter and more cherub-y (is that even a word?? haha!)

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Here’s how it turned out!

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Although Abu Dhabi is quite a trek for us native Dubaians, it’s well worth it and I highly recommend checking it out next year!

Christie’s n’ Cartier. Ice Ice baby.

Lights, camera…diamond.

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That was pretty much my sequence of actions as I excitedly browsed through the much anticipated “Important Watches” exhibition at Christies in Emirates Tower Hotel.

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The exhibition showcased designs by Chopard, Cartier, Harry Winston, Patek Philippe, and Roger Dubuis to name a few.

I don’t know a girl who doesn’t gush and get giddy over the thought of diamonds. I am no exception.

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As I walked around admiring the the flawless glimmer of the jewels set in vintage limited edition pieces, I learnt a bit more about the rare materials available.

Featuring enamel, emeralds and plenty of intricately cut baguette diamonds .. these encrusted watches oozed top notch finery, decadence and indulgence. Here’s a few photos of what I saw that day …

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This rare 18K gold bangle watch incorporates a panther’s head in the design, complete with emerald set eyes. Priced between 15,000 – 25,000 USD.

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This design by Roger Dubuis has 28 jewels, a mother of pearl dial, aperture for date complete with a stainless steel Roger Dubuis deployant clasp and case. Valued between 28,000 – 40,000 USD

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This impressive watch is set with 32 baguette cut diamonds, weighing at 6.04 carats and has 1047 brilliant cut diamonds weighing at 15.23 carats. That’s a whole lotta bling!!!!

Priced at around 100,000 – 150,000 USD.

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vintage art deco diamond watches circa 1930

Can’t you just imagine the Crawley sisters from Downton Abbey wearing these?

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A stunning piece by Bovet valued at 70,000 – 90,000 USD

This Patek Philippe watch is probably the most sought after piece at the exhibition. It is double sealed to protect it and has a cloisonne enamel dial.

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Making dials such as these is highly complex and requires great skill from dedicated artisans. A rare treasure, this model is now discontinued and no longer listed in the Patek Philippe catalogue.

Price between 120,000 – 160, 000 USD

Here are some other jewellery sets that dazzle and seduce!! Although not part of the exhibition, they certainly deserve some time in the spotlight too ….

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Over at Art Dubai, The FondationCartier pour l’art contemporain & Cartier presents two imaginary cities contrasted with beauty and global diversity which depicts “L’Odyssée de Cartier” collection

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Created by the artist in 2000, following his first exhibition at the FondationCartier pour l’art
contemporain in 1995, this colourful model-like megacity architectural piece is the product of the
African artist’s inexhaustible imagination, made of salvage, cardboard and fragile materials, where
he builds a large number of buildings which he arranges into cities, thus creating a totally imaginary
urban space.

I loved the way the space was decorated. It’s so pristine and pure with the all white colour scheme and using famous buildings representing to each continent. Take a look …

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For this new show, Cartier and the FondationCartier pour l’art contemporain strived to find the
perfect balance of opposites, with Bodys Isek Kingelez’s extrême maquette (extreme model)
“Maman Isek Mabo Bendele” a colourful and imaginary city, juxtaposed with the white city created by Cartier, enfolding the world of “L’Odyssée de Cartier” Collection.

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L’Odyssée de Cartier, Parcours d’un style (journey of style) Collection, is a voyage through a world in perpetual motion offering an unexpected trip of discovery.

Art Dubai 2014

Mark Twain once said “Thousands of geniuses live and die undiscovered – either by themselves or by others.”

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Rather grim, but there is some truth in that quote. Many artists work their whole lives to get the recognition and exposure that their work deserves but SO many remain unsuccessful in this quest in spite of it all.

This is where fairs like Art Dubai come into the picture!

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With over 500 participating, it allows artists from all over the world (emerging and established) some well-earned time in the sun. (literally!!!)

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With a strong focus on the Middle East, artists from the region gain global exposure and therefore, so much awareness is created. Art Dubai has an extensive, well-rounded programme which is filled to the brim with numerous tours, forums, discussions and workshops while attracting many prestigious art collectors from all around the world.

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From competitions like the Abraaj Group Art Prize, to workshops like the Sheikha Manal little artist programme, there truly is something for EVERYONE to see!

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Now in it’s 8th year, the fair continues to flourish …

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For opening night, I decided to channel my inner Betty Draper and so I opted for this gorgeous emerald-green full skirt from a local boutique called Dee by Dalia. Her chic vintage pieces set my heart aflutter. Check her website out here –

http://www.deebydalia.com/

Although artistic, Art Dubai is certainly one of the chic events where you can really go really fun and eccentric with fashion.

As I loitered around outside, I spotted many well dressed ladies. They wafted around in their wide pleated trousers, quirky turbans, neon accessories, bright kaftans and oversized sunnies! I dug it!

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Image courtesy Savoir Flair Magazine

Image courtesy Savoir Flair Magazine

Now, I’m not one for planning. I immediately set about aimlessly traipsing through the grand halls, enjoying getting “lost” and immersed in the artwork.

There’s such a huge amount of galleries, workshops and activities going on at Art Dubai. For this specific post, I have decided to focus more on the galleries and briefly describe some pieces that really attracted me.

Without further ado, here’s my round-up!

At Green Art Gallery, Kamrooz Aram’s piece “Tempered composition with three points” has a hazy and dreamlike quality.

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He is known to constantly layer his work, and then he scrapes it off to re work it. This results in a distinguishable multi dimensional quality. He exposes faint tracings in certain areas of the canvas and has used a simplified, child like floral motif. This shows that the use of florals can be sophisticated and prove more than just an adornment.

This statue “ Flesh of the Shadow Spirits” is created by Kendell Geers from Galerie Rodolphe Janssen and it is made from resin. A conceptual artist from South Africa, his work often has heavy political elements, typically concerning civil rights.

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I did a double take when I saw these beautifully crafted knives by Zoulikha Bouabdellah at Gallery Isabelle Van Den Eynde. I found it really interesting how she has taken an instrument that usually has connotations of violence or aggression, and given them a new lease of life with her intricate, arabesque inspired shapes.

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:mentalKLINIK created this quirky piece cleverly called “French Kiss. Two forces are linked together in perfect symmetry, giving a romantic sense of personification.

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The Breeder – a gallery based in Athens, featured Zoi Gaitanidou’s very tactile pieces. She uses embroidery to create elaborate tapestries that combine primitive figures and abstract patterns. She is influenced by tribal art.

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Mumbai based gallery Chatterjee and Lal presented a solo booth by one of my favorite Pakistani artists, Rashid Rana.

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For these pieces, Rana has re interpreted famous paintings such as “The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus” by Peter Paul Rubens, and “The Oath of Horatii” by Jacques Louis David and has chopped them up into smaller fragments and scrambled them up – just like the surface of a Rubik’s cube.

He has selected these particular paintings specifically for their connotations on carnal violence, and perhaps misogynistic undertones which is something he feels he can resonate with regarding the political state of Pakistan/rise of islamic fundamentalism.

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It’s interesting how Imran Qureshi’s work deals with a similar theme too but he has an extremely different approach to it.

I find works by these two artists always seem to pull an emotional chord with me.

Another rather emotional piece is by Sydney based couple Sean Cordeiro and Claire Healy. Entitled “T+85_red&blue_diptych”, it is part of a collection of pixel-art images of space shuttle explosions which are created from pieces of Lego.

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This piece is dedicated to highlight a certain shuttle that exploded. The use of material is interesting as the Lego is not only to depict the tragedy itself, but it also seemed fitting as one of the women who died on the shuttle explosion was a teacher, therefore the Lego reminds us of children and the loss of innocence.

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This was shown at Gallery Wendi Norris which is based in San Francisco.

There were a few artists at the fair with really strong environmental themes in their work.

Take this very narrative piece of art by Indonesian artist, Prilla Tania from dgallerie.

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It is made from cut paper of various types and upon close inspection, it actually tells a whole story about deforestation in Indonesia.

There’s a primal and primitive element about it that I like. It reminds me of ancient art – the way her artwork “talks” just like hieroglyphics or cave paintings would. Fascinating!

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Also focusing on the environment, Nnenna Okore’s installations are made from discarded yet reusable materials such as magazines, newspapers string and plastic bags.

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Okore’s works brings a focus on consumerism, excessive wastefulness. She is represented by Omenka gallery, Nigeria.

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I loved this beautiful glimmering golden sculpture by Elmgreen and Dragset, from Victoria Miro Gallery in London. It is made from 24 carat gold-plated bronze.

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Frank Bowling from Hales Gallery combines an emotive use of colour stain and sprayed motifs combined with textural elements.

Frank Bowling, Ashton's Plunge, 2011, acrylic on canvas, 302.5 x 165 cm

This artist, originally from Guyana is actually 80 years old!

There are also some tactile qualities as stitching is sometimes incorporated in his work as an homage to his mother, who was a seamstress.

Frank Bowling, Ponsonby Welch, Overlooking Fryish Maze, 2012, acrylic paint on canvas, 304.8 x 188 cm [lowres]

His paintings relate to Abstract expressionism, Color Field painting and Lyrical Abstraction.

Mark Dion’s curious dark room in InSitu Gallery, contains various glow in the dark items and encourages us to reflect age-old philosophical questions regarding spirituality, science and art.

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Plus…it’s pretty groovy.

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I know it was a SUPER long post, but this was honestly just scratching the surface.

Hopefully with more initiatives like Art Dubai, an abundance of geniuses will continue to be discovered.

They, too will get their chance to tell their stories to the world …

"Forever These Words Unsteadily Will Live" by Fred Eerdekens

“Forever These Words Unsteadily Will Live” by Fred Eerdekens

Design Days 2014

Art Dubai opening night is TOMORROW night.

Right now, I feel like one of those vintage toys you wind up with a key RIGHT before placing on the floor … literally RARING to go !!!

BUT having said that …there are so many OTHER interesting fairs and exhibitions to check out during Art Season, such as Art Nights, Sikka, Christie’s and of course Design Days Dubai. Since I’m rather greedy, I want to see it ALL…I can relate to Aerosmith’s song…I (really) DONT wanna miss a THING!!!

So I set off bright and early (ish) to investigate Design Days first, followed by a quick browse at Christies to see the watch exhibition.

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A heads up for newbies – Design Days Dubai is the leading fair in the Middle East and South Asia dedicated to collectible and limited edition furniture and design objects. The fair presents design from leading international designers and galleries alongside up and coming design from across the world.

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I started with The Carpenter’s Gallery, which is from Paris.

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This amazingly innovative lighting installation is made from REAL dandelions and the lightbulbs are inside…creating a beautiful fuzzy soft glow! I’ve taken a close up so you can see it clearly!

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The designers, Ralph Nauta and Lonneke Gordijin have used a combination of dandelion seeds, phosphorus bronze, LEDs, perspex and concrete to create it.

Now, I need to talk a little bit about this clock called The Grandfather Clock by Maarten Baas as it’s unbelievable. At first glance, I just thought it was a rather plain ordinary clock but after a few minutes …what appeared like a MAN from INSIDE the clock came from out of nowhere …erased out the minute handle and drew a new one..right before my eyes!!! It was so trippy that I actually felt startled!! After all…this kind of behavior is NOT something one expects from a clock! I’m glad a have a photo ..because I sound insane when describing it. As if I’ve had too much of grandma’s cough medicine.

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The gallerist explained to me that this has been achieved with a video. The designer had filmed someone drawing the handles on from behind glass. The clock plays this video on loop as time goes on and apparently, the character rings a bell and does other things like has a cup of tea, too. I really love the way the designer has succeeded in animating the inanimate! Very creative!

Here are some other pieces by Carpenter!

"Chartres" Studio Job

“Chartres” Studio Job

"Monkey Business" Studio Job

“Monkey Business” Studio Job

Miracle Chips is an installation by Micheal Anastassiades which was presented by Carwan Gallery. The designer has achieved the impossible – making a heavy material such as marble appear paper thin and flexible. Anastassiades was inspired by red fortune telling cellophane fish you get at Christmas crackers, and wanted his pieces to retain the appearance of marble but appear to curl up and appear featherlight.

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Next Level Gallery in Paris, featured some stunning and unique limited edition light installations by Phileppe Malouin. I love the way the light appears to breaks and filter through the delicate brass maze creating scattered lighting effects.

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As well as this, I also loved this cleverly designed wall piece which can also be used to sit on. Designed by fashion and furniture designer Jose Levy, he created this set of 2 pieces after his visit to Kyoto where he got inspired by his oriental surroundings. He has used a material traditionally used as mats that are normally completely flat and has somehow moulded it into these statement sculptures.

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Creating imagery and visual effects through shadow and reflection, this installation was commissioned by Giles Miler Studio and presented by Capsule Arts. I love how the pieces spin and the optical illusion it creates. It constantly switches from exposing negative spaces to “closing up” into tighter compressed pieces.

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The next piece is from The Fabrik Lab, Hong Kong which is an installation by designer, Elaine Ng Yan Ling. She brings together textiles and electronics in a wonderfully creative way. Centered around biomimicry, she’s inspired by a certain resilient desert plant that constantly expands and changes according to the moisture in the air.

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Her organic and magical approach has been described as creating designs that move and grow like trees – but faster. It’s true, for it appeared as though her intricate wooden designs were morphing, curling and spinning before our eyes..literally coming alive. It is made from layers of smart veneer. I had the good fortune of speaking to the designer and she is so full of eloquence and passion. Here’s a photo of her in her “garden.”

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Like Ng Yan Ling, it seems that Paula Rodriguez from Nakkash gallery was ALSO inspired by biomimicry, when she created this chic nautilus shell-shaped storage and divider unit. I love the way it creates nooks for showing off your stuff as well as an artwork in itself. This sculptural piece is constructed with a wood frame and veneered in natural-finished bamboo.

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Another very patriotic and regionally inspired piece that caught my eye were these victory chairs designed by Omar Nakkesh. These quirky chairs incorporate the distinguishable salute invented by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

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There’s even an ascot “dressed” chair. Once again, adding animation to the inanimate and lending so much character!!

I would love to write more about ALL the furniture, but there is just TOO much to cover…so here are more photos of some other unmissable items at the fair, followed by some shots I took of some GORGEOUS jewelry from the Van Cleef and Arpel exhibition.

Enjoy!!!

Clear Edition Gallery

Clear Edition Gallery

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Art Factum Gallery

Art Factum Gallery

Art Factum Gallery

Art Factum Gallery

Tashkeel Gallery - rug made out of camel leather

Tashkeel Gallery – rug made out of camel leather

Carpenter Gallery

Carpenter Gallery

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PP Trees installation by Tom Price at Design Days Dubai! Made entirely from polypropylene pipes and cable ties

PP Trees installation by Tom Price at Design Days Dubai! Made entirely from polypropylene pipes and cable ties

DIFC Art Night March 2014

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So here we are … on the BRINK of Art Week 2014. Can’t you just FEEL the energy in the air?!

Once again, Al Serkal and DIFC decided to have their art nights on the same night!!! Curses!!!

Can I just take a moment to rant …

WHY do you DO this to us?! WHY do you make us choose?
Al Serkal …you are so spacious, trendy, relaxing, sophisticated, clean and classic.

And as for YOU, DIFC…you are no less with your chaotic energy, your glamazons, canapés, live art, music and yuppie handsome men (ofcourse I had my eyes firmly focused on the art but .. c’mon It’s hard NOT to notice them) 😉

So basically … If I had to sum up the aura of these two important hubs, I would say that Al Serkal is Jackie O and DIFC is Marilyn Monroe.

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It was a toughie but this time I decided to go with DIFC, even though (just like the actresses) they are both awesome – each with their own charm.

As expected, DIFC Art Nights was PACKED. A live band played in the background, lending an air of joviality.

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You know me … I’m a major canapé cruncher and so of course I made a beeline towards the food, which was prepared by the Ritz Carlton. I had warm beef potato fritters with a dusting of truffle on the top.

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Uh-oh… I’m in truffle now…. (Geddit???)

I dunno if a  spoonful of goat's cheese helps the medicine go down..but it IS certainly is delightful.

I dunno if a spoonful of goat’s cheese helps the medicine go down..but it IS certainly is delightful.

Dessert was as yummy as it looked.

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Now for the art – although I arrived late, there was still some interesting live art going on including a 3D pavement chalk drawing and graffiti art. Amazing stuff!

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Further up on the right side corner, there were various artists and photographers exhibiting and selling their artwork.

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Close by …there were some beautiful, regionally inspired jewellery designs for sale. Being the magpie that I am, I had to have a little nosey. Those are some mighty pretty baubles!

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Here are some of my favorite pieces from Opera Gallery.

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And over at Cuadro gallery, a very informative presentation caught my eye entitled “Crash” by Manal Al Dowayan about the alarming rising numbers of Saudi women that are critically injured or die in car crashes due to the combination of low pay, the driving ban and unsafe roads in Saudi Arabia. Al Dowayan has collected clippings, photographs and statistics and the artist asks us “How do you mourn if the suffering has no face and no name?”

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Sheena’s choices for the evening were these beautiful, saturated, calligraphy pieces by critically acclaimed Emirati artist Abdul Qader Al Rais.

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I had to agree with her taste. Just look at his stunning use of colour. These paintings are unlike any calligraphy painting I’ve ever seen, and you can spot his style from a mile off!

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Meanwhile in Art Sawa – an extremely upbeat and cheerful solo show by Robert Hammond who combines materials like painted stainless steel and acrylic. His exhibition was aptly entitled “Happy Lucky.” In the cynical world that we live in, at first I thought the artist was being satirical or ironic …but it turns out …his tone really IS happy. A refreshing change! Love his work!

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Some images from Abdulnasser Gharem’s solo show “The Awakening” at Ayyam Gallery.

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Over here we have Khaled Zaki’s beautiful spiritual looking sculptures at Art Space. Artefacts from Ancient Egypt inspire the artist and I find that his pieces appear so placid and serene. I love their expressions captured in bronze and marble. The large dervish in particular is mesmerising.

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Last but not least, Cube Arts gallery highlights a cubist inspired style born in Saudi Arabia since the 1950’s. They showcase how the various artists matured and developed as well as how the cubist movement spread as time went on within the region.

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What a LONG post!!!! But then again, there was SO much to cover. It’s now 3 am and I shall retreat to my bed, to wake up bright eyed and bushy tailed for Art Dubai!

Sheena and I

Sheena and I

Toodles!!!!

Imran Qureshi exhibition at Salsali Private Museum

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Hailed as Deutsche Bank’s artist of the year of 2013, Pakistani artist Imran Qureshi is creating waves in Pakistan’s contemporary art genre and is the pioneer of neo-contemporary miniature painting. He has received international acclaim for his intense and highly unique style.

commissioned paintings on the roof of The Met

commissioned paintings on the roof of The Met

As soon as I saw his famous roof garden commission he created for The Met in New York, I was spellbound by the artist’s intricate and powerful work. I couldn’t believe my luck when I found out THE Imran Qureshi was having a solo show here in Dubai at Salsali Private Museum, Al Serkal.

Qureshi’s themes center around social, political and ideological issues. He is primarily influenced by terrorism and corruption in Pakistan, although, he acknowledges that violence is a pressing issue everywhere, not just in Pakistan and therefore his work is relevant globally.

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As I walked into the gallery I was startled by seeing the artist’s signature style in person.

It’s a very raw, blood-splattered illusion but when you look closer it resembles a cluster of beautiful delicate chrysanthemums rendered in shades of crimson. This reiterates his themes of beauty being born amongst destruction.

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I love how he utilizes an ancient style of Mugal-era miniatures but incorporates it in a contemporary way to speak about present issues – juxtaposing the country’s past and present. The way he combines traditional fine art with installation is fascinating too.

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I pondered why he chose to repeatedly use a gold background on the canvases. Was it purely for aesthetics or was it deliberately chosen to convey the stark contrast in social classes within Pakistan, highlighting overt flamboyance with suffering?

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His installation in particular was remarkable. I am at loss for words for this one. See it for yourself!

"And They Still Seek The Traces Of Blood" by Imran Qureshi.  mounds and mounds of "blood" stained papers/floral motifs.

“And They Still Seek The Traces Of Blood” by Imran Qureshi.
mounds and mounds of “blood” stained papers/floral motifs.

Same installation shown in Berlin

Same installation shown in Berlin

The artist draws from personal experience as he has witnessed the turmoil his native country has endured over the years with tragic and deadly bombings, rise of sectarian extremism and frequent suicide bombings and shootings.

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Although his work is about creating awareness of violence and extremism, interestingly, his overall tone is not entirely negative or cynical. In fact, his pieces evoke a sense of hope in humanity.

He states that there is a certain correlation between destruction and beauty; it forms an existential cycle that not only makes us despair but also gives us hope. I agree wholeheartedly with the artist on his views.

It’s a poignant fact that when shrouded in calamity, injustice and natural disasters, that is when, simultaneously, tenderness and compassion is demonstrated and therefore humanity is restored.

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Official opening of Noon Art Boutique Hotel Apartments

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It’s no secret that I love art. I try to attend as many gallery openings, launches, auctions and exhibitions as I can here in Dubai.

Tough life, eh?! 😉

What I really love though, is the many uses and facets of art. I’m intrigued when it merges together with design and function because that is when it transforms into something much deeper than aesthetics – more than just a painting adorning a wall.

In short, I love when the beauty of art is used in more practical unconventional ways.

How cool IS this elevator?!

How cool IS this elevator?!

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When I found out about the concept of Noon art boutique, I was beyond fascinated. Located in Al Barsha, Noon Art Boutique virtually uses art in every nook and cranny of the hotel!

Some of these exquisite features include …… (deep breath so I can list them all!!!)

The enamel clocks in the lobby, copious wallpaper designs, ornate rugs, intricate engravings on the wood of the cabinets, etched designs on the frosted glass doors of the showers NOT forgetting the impressive assortment of paintings enhancing the hallways and rooms! (Whew!!! What an impressive list!)

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The hotel apartments boasts 45 beautifully appointed luxury suites arranged across 12 immaculately designed floors.

The interesting thing about this hotel is that it has been designed by three UAE artists who had each been given a certain number of floors to use as their very own blank canvases.

Although the rooms all look similar in terms of colour schemes and materials, if you look a bit closer you will notice that they vary a great deal in design. For instance – inspired by spirituality, Khalid Bin Slimane incorporates God’s name seamlessly into the design of his rooms.

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Ali Hassan opts for tasteful interlocked Arab calligraphy made from dark and light wood carved into the furniture such as headboads the tables and even the lights above!

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Finally, renowned Emirati artist, Dr Najat Makki uses figurative work – a famous trademark of her artistic style.

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All attendees were treated to live musical entertainment, canapés, refreshments, and three on-site artists – Anita Jane Scott, Fiona Mackenzie and Thaer Mahdi – who wowed those present with their live artistic creations. There was also a guided tour of the suites which started on the first floor of the building – and a showcase of impressive local art and culture.

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Feelin arty in my patterned trousers!

Feelin arty in my patterned trousers!

Now, I often hear common criticisms of this city from a few expats living here. We’ve all heard them. They drone “Dubai is so commercial. Dubai is so materialistic. There’s no soul.”

People like to repeat comments like this often in a mantra-like fashion.

Well, this impeccably designed hotel proves that times are changing and Noon Art Boutique is FAR from just another sell out hotel apartment, it’s indeed a cut above the rest. With its bespoke artistry, unique craftsmanship and deep attention to detail, it’s ANYTHING but commercial.

It’s class all the way!

‘Tis the season to be arty, Falalalala lalalala ….

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Not only is February the official month of love, but it’s also proving to be quite a glorious time for art aficionados like myself.

There are tonnes of interesting art events and exhibitions going on right now. I’ve been keeping busy doing my usual gallery hopping and last week I went to see two great shows with extremely different tones.

My friend Deama had invited me to come to an exhibition called Fakie #3 which she was participating in.

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Opening night of Fake#3 at FN Designs

Opening night of Fake#3 at FN Designs

Fakie #3 was held at FN designs at Al Serkhal Avenue. Every artist participating at this show had been given a blank skateboard to use as their canvas and they were to illustrate their signature style on it.

The end results were so amazing as there was so much variation in subject matter in the collection. For instance, some artists went for patterns, others opted for sketching animals. A few skateboards had been adorned with beautiful, romantic, art nouveau style illustrations with flowing hair and exaggerated manga-esque eyes.

Liz Ramos

Liz Ramos

Joseph Manata

Joseph Manata

Azim Al Ghussein

Azim Al Ghussein

H.H. Sheikha Wafa Hasher Al Maktoum

H.H. Sheikha Wafa Hasher Al Maktoum

The mood for the evening was chilled out, vibrant and fun. In keeping with the theme, they even had a skateboard ramp built outside to get your “skillz on”

Oh, and the canapes!!! Sushi, salmon and shawermas…Oh my!!!!!

I certainly enjoyed noshing on those while browsing through the “totally bodacious boards!!!”

(That last phrase has to be read in a voice like Michelangelo the ninja turtle, please.)

group shot of participating artists

group shot of participating artists

Almost a Dream opening night

Almost a Dream opening night

Moving along, another exhibition I was very eager to see was Safwan Dahoul’s solo show “Almost a Dream” held at Ayyam gallery in DIFC.

The critically acclaimed Syrian painter has created a soulful and poignant series of paintings in muted monochrome shades.

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Inspired by his colour palette, I dressed in monochrome just for the occasion!

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There’s elements in his work which are inspired ancient Pharaonic art. An example of this is how he incorporates a distinctive almond shaped Eye of Horus symbol shown repeatedly in his pieces. He uses reoccurring figures such as angels and a soft female form to narrate his ideas.

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The themes he deals with in his work have a melancholy tone as he generally centers around war, tragedy and the inhumane conditions civilians have to go through in his home country in Syria.

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Dahoul attempts to bring out the in the viewer the same feeling of pain that is experienced in his own being. His evocative work is open to interpretation and hence, very engaging and personal to the viewer. So much so that I found some of his paintings really did trigger an emotional chord with me.

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“Almost a Dream” is on display at DIFC until the 13th of March.