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!

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Ali Abbas solo show at Mussawir Gallery

I’ve always had a soft corner for Pakistani art. I’m aware that statement may sound biased given my roots, but hear me out – From Sadequain’s calligraphic cubism to Hajra’s romantic illustrative pieces, Pakistani art boasts a full-bodied and unique … Continue reading

Abu Dhabi Art Fair

What a dilemma I had this weekend! On Saturday I had the choice of either going to Abu Dhabi for the last day of the art fair OR attending Al Quoz for QuozHappens. They were both happening on the same day! (Curses!!)

‘Twas a tough decision which I mulled over for quite some time. In the end I decided to see the Abu Dhabi Art Fair simply because I had never seen it before and quite frankly, I was extremely curious!

So after a loooong and perplexing drive I finally made it to Saadiyat Island. Luckily, I had just missed the brief spell of rain and as a result the weather was so pleasant with a cool, post-drizzle breeze. As soon as I entered I whipped out my phone and got rather snap happy and I just had to take a photo of this very interesting looking chair installation.

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This installation was at the near the reception just as you enter.

Now, there was an abundance of incredible artwork at the fair but I’m just skimming through and giving a very brief overview of what really stood out to me, what I personally noticed and my favorite highlights.

Abu Dhabi Art Fair has an impressive and extensive range of curated shows, workshops talks and activities available every day of the fair. To name a few there is the Modern contemporary design galleries, Signature, Beyond, Bidaya and Artist’s Waves. My first instinct was to have a browse around outdoors where there were a number of small pavilions, from solo shows to magazine kiosks. I was intrigued by this exhibition taking place with an assortment of beautiful African inspired cultural line illustrations. I spoke to the curator to get a bit more information about this and the idea was so raise awareness and funds for women in Africa suffering from childbirth complications due to poor medical resources and equipment.

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Ayyam Gallery had some gorgeous new work by Syrian artist Safwan Dahoul. I really am a huge fan of his paintings and his Surrealistic/Pharaonic style. His pieces are both haunting and melancholy. Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes I think his work reminds me of the legendary Pakistani painter Sadequain.

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I loved this artwork by Firat Neziroglu made from hand woven tapestry on a loom entitled “Mamma’s Girl.”

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A very beautiful painting with a kaleidoscope quality by Mahmoud Obaidi named Morpheus and the Red Poppy.

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This creatively designed pattern by Moataz Nasr was made entirely using different colours of matches.
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“Happy Lucky 4” by Lebanese English Robert Hammond explores contemporary allegories through the mechanics of modern interfaces and the modern visual realm. Elementary shapes, symbols and smiling faces are combined to obtain whimsical harmonies and resonances – isolating our perception to patterns, surfaces, textures and reflection and their relations. This is made from coloured steel and glass 10 cm deep.

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I adored the sense of craftsmanship in this artwork by Korean artist Kim Duck-Yong entitled “Jawoonyoung.” Just look at the iridescent surface texture with that mother-of-pearl like finish. Anyone who knows me is aware that I’m a stickler for art that is more traditional – be it renaissance, Ancient Egyptian sculptures, japanese silk painting. I found this simply beautiful! I’ve included a close up for you to see the surface.

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Being completely obsessed with the sea, mermaids and sirens, I found I was drawn to this piece by Lebanese artist Nabil Nahas. As well as being inspired by the repetitive geometric designs of Islamic art, his work frequently has a coral-reef like quality to it with his favorite motif being a starfish. Believe it or not, this painting is made entirely from Acrylic paint! I love how pigmented and vibrant his colours are.

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Last but not least is an amazing sculpture by Mondogo called “I’d settle for being able to sleep.” I love love LOVE Mondogo’s work and I have seen some of their epic pieces at Art Sawa in DIFC. I love the innovative manipulation of their materials and their beautiful use of colour and texture and how they use mixed media. They frequently incorporate the barrios of their own native Argentina making their works very atmospheric.

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A famous quote by Mark Twain is to “Write what you know” in order to be a successful writer. It seems that Montogo definitely took Twain’s advice and follows this rule perfectly as they successfully draw from their own personal cultural influences thus making their artwork relatable, informative and create a more engaging dialogue.

Absolutely wonderful fair and I look forward to seeing it next year!

Art Nights at DIFC – November

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If you are an art fanatic like me, the idea of waiting all year for Art Dubai to arrive to get your art fix can be disheartening and tedious. Cue …ART NIGHTS! Various “art nights” are held at Dubai’s art hubs, DIFC and Al Serkhal, particularly in the winter. This is where the galleries sync up for an evening and show their latest pieces to the public accompanied with some great little snacks and scintillating live music. They frequently hire live artists to lend some youthful energy to the night. There’s nothing quite like being amongst the exciting buzz and meandering through the newest gallery exhibitions with a toasty amuse bouche in hand. If you haven’t been yet, (uhh…why?!) I highly recommend it.

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I popped in for a little while this evening to have a browse at some of the latest pieces on display this month. First I made a beeline for The Opera Gallery, which had some stunning giant portraits by Spanish painter Lita Cabellut. I found these really fascinating and I was drawn to the unique surface of these works which is her signature style of layering plastic over a painterly ground. This results in a texturally rich surface which is cracked in parts of the painting, exposing certain areas yet glassy-coated and laminated in others – almost like something preserved which is naturally ageing.
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Another favorite artist from this gallery is Roc Roussey’s work, whose paintings I have noticed and had my eye on for some time now. I love how evocative and haunting his imagery is, his strong oriental themes and how there’s such a sense of vibrance and movement. He appeals to me because of his strong illustration background which really shows through his work.

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Moving along to Caudro Gallery – this was one I was most excited about stopping by at because of a special photography exhibition Harper’s Bazaar was hosting. These images were portraits of women representing Middle Eastern Aristocracy and the photographs were taken by artist Ayaad Damouni. I love the high fashion imagery juxtaposed with opulent colours, patterns and prints. The look was completed with the odd splash of luxurious furs thrown in for that “old money” look. Luxury at it’s finest!

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I was very intrigued by the mysterious and sombre paintings of Aidan Salakhova. Her work spoke to me and hit me on a personal level as her subject matter often deals with gender themes and women’s sexuality in the context of religion regarding matters of prohibition and the different ideas of beauty. This is a subject I am often in conflict with, myself and find it difficult to broach due to its delicate and taboo nature so I’m impressed with painters that can explore these themes successfully in their very own visual language. There’s something about her work that reminds me of Salvador Dali a little. Take a look –
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Over at Art Sawa, Rafael Burrios solo show – Unfathomable was taking place. Venezuelan artist Burrios concept is based on the alteration of our perceptive mental state and he manipulates and challenges traditional ideas of vision and perception through his colourful geometric sculptures. I liked the art exhibition at the gallery, however, to get the true effect of his sculptures you really must see his huge installations set in real cityscape atmospheres which I have been looking at online.

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Ayyam gallery featured Syrian artist Mouteea Murad’s work. He is inspired by cubism, geometric abstraction and Kandinsky. Due to the delicate political state that is happening now in his native country, the artist yearns for a sense of balance, nostalgia and happiness. These wistful sentiments are conveyed through his large bright canvases. These are engaging, decorative and appealing to the eye and I loved the sense of harmony and attractive saturated colours depicted throughout.

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And now for something completely different! I really loved these artistic cushion and stationary designs by Rana Salam. They were fun, cheerful kitsch and a bit retro. Check them out!

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Great night out! Now, roll on Quoz Happens!