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.

Grandfather Clock View 1

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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

‘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.

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

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!