ArtistsGalleries 13-03-2017

Get to know the local gallery scene during Art Dubai this week

From 15 to 18 March, the 11th edition of Art Dubai will take place, hosting 79 contemporary galleries from across the globe. Yet the excitement of an art fair is also getting to know local galleries on their home turf. Here is a small selection of what is to be found.

Hera Büyüktaşçıyan, “Write Injuries on Sand and Kindness in Marble” at Green Art Gallery, through May 6

Istanbul-based artist, Hera Büyüktaşçıyan opens a new exhibition at the Green Art Gallery on March 13. The exhibition, “Write Injuries on Sand and Kindness in Marble,” stands testament to the tumultuous history of the region.

Through the lens of aquamorphology, Büyüktaşçıyan explores the infinite facets of memory, historicity and time. Water is central to her work. In its collaboration with time, water is able to cleanse and empty, whilst simultaneously sediment layers of history.

This exhibition draws attention to water in its absence.

An interrogation into ‘collective memory’, Büyüktaşçıyan attempts to highlight the difficulties faced by those whose voice has been saturated in passing time. She examines the nature of memory, the relationship between labour and productivity, and how memories of a space are shaped by waves of power.

Hera Büyüktaşçıya, © Green Art Gallery


Sophia Al Maria, “Everything Must Go” at The Third Line, through April 1

EVERYTHING MUST GO” sees Sophia Al Maria tackle once more the chaotic, at times violent, nature of consumerism. This will be Al Maria’s first solo-exhibition in the United Arab Emirates.

The Qatari-American artist, writer and filmmaker has focused much of her career on the effect of “Gulf Futurism”. This pithy term, Al Maria coined almost a decade ago whilst studying at Goldsmiths in London, describes the warp-speed transformation of Dubai and other oil-rich cities in recent history.

The mall may be dying-out in America, but Al-Maria has witnessed the cultural export thrive in cities like Dubai, the Middle-Eastern capital for commercial consumption. “Everything must go” follows on from “Black Friday” – her solo exhibition at The Whitney Museum of American Art in 2016 – taking the Gruen transfer as her starting point. Otherwise known as the “Gruen effect,” Al Maria cites the master mall-architect Victor Gruen, in his ability to cultivate the sense of disorientation and displacement from reality; necessary to induce gross spending. An immersive experience in isolated luxury; the artist invites her audience to experience illusion of chaotic, frenzied consuming.


Sophia Al Maria Still from Black Friday (2016) © Whitney Museum of American Art


Afshin Pirhashemi, “House Of Cards” at Ayyam Gallery, through May 25

Tehran-based painter, Afshin Pirhashemi, confronts the polar psychosocial stereotypes of Iranian women exported from modern day Iran in a solo show at the Ayyam Gallery. Beguiled by the image presented by society–the contrasting images often displaced and superimposed on one another–Pirhashemi creates photorealistic portraits of young women to highlight the duality and contradictions they face.

Reflecting on the birth and dissolution of his own marriage, Pirhashemi explores themes of marriage, modesty, violence, betrayal, revenge and redemption. The violence implicit in his work operates in a two-fold movement: most explicitly in the juxtaposed, disjointed nature of the figures whose colours seem to bleed from their form, and in terms of the contrasting messages they convey.  

With spaces in both Beirut and Dubai, the Ayyam Gallery’s mandate–to expand the parameters of international contemporary art–is certainly called into action in “House of Cards”.


Afshin Pirhashemi © Ayyam Gallery


Mounir Fatmi “Inside the Fire Circle” at Lawrie Shabibi, through April 27

Mounir Fatmi’s first solo exhibition in Dubai, “Inside the Fire Circle,” sees him navigate the work of prolific American activist and journalist John Howard Griffin. Through the form and body of the circle, Fatmi engages with Griffin’s struggle against racial discrimination during the Civil Rights Movement: highlighting the cyclical nature of resistance and the tendency for history to repeat itself.

Examination of the circle recurs regularly in Fatmi’s work. Used both symbolically and materially, the circle is used to refute a linear conception of time. Fatmi addresses this explicitly in a series of looped videos, “Modern Times, A History of the Machine.”

Yet, a sense of progress is still prevalent in his work–a set of black and white photographs entitled “Crossing the Line” depict movement and the act of surpassing bounds, with a close-up of feet traversing road surface lines.   


Mounir Fatmi Crossing The Line (2014-15) © Lawrie Shabibi, Mounir Fatmi


Lala Rukh, “sagar” at Grey Noise, through May 13

Another first, Lala Rukh’s “sagar” exhibition at Grey Noise gallery will end in May. A committed activist and feminist, Rukh is a well-known figure within academic artistic circles in Pakistan. However, for political and personal reasons, she has kept her studio practice more private than her pedagogical activities.

The photographs on display evoke a silent, contemplative aesthetic. They mark sites across Sri Lanka, India, Nepal and Burma, where–as though she were on a pilgrimage seeking moments of repose–she has stopped to take stock; to breathe easily, intime with the tides of the sea.  

The deeply intimate nature of Rukh’s work sets the tone for an exhibition imbued with meditative moments, touching on philosophical questions of being through poetic depictions of the sea.


Lala Rukh Pegasus © Grey Noise
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