13 UAE art shows to see this summer: Monir Farmanfarmaian to Satwa 3000

From Farmanfarmaian's shimmering glass fountain to Hiwa K's first solo show in the Middle East, here's what not to miss over the next few months

There is an exciting summer of art to be enjoyed in the Emirates.

Galleries in the UAE are presenting several works over the next few months, including by Monir Farmanfarmaian, whose Khayyam Fountain is now on view at Sharjah Art Foundation, and Judy Blum Reddy, who is presenting a takeover at Dubai’s 1x1 Art Gallery. There are also new shows at the art space Foundry in Downtown Dubai, with works by Hashel Al Lamki and Maxime Cramatte, among others.

Here are 13 exhibitions to see in the UAE now:

Making Sense of the Floating Word

New York-born artist Blum Reddy is the focus of 1x1 Art Gallery's latest exhibition. The artist studies symbolic forms and graphics, specifically their roles in communication before the development of alphabetic writing systems.

Curated by Lou Mo, the exhibition is the first of a series of four that is part of 1x1’s annual summer initiative, OneWall.

Blum Reddy’s works include autobiographical mixed-media collages on wood panels that reference her past, as well references to her earlier works as a student and a younger artist.

Until Saturday, July 17; 1x1 Art Gallery, Alserkal Avenue, Dubai; 1x1artgallery.com

Do You Remember What You Are Burning

Iraqi-Kurdish artist Hiwa K’s first solo show in Asia and the Middle East highlights more than 10 years of the acclaimed artist’s practice. Fusing humour and personal experience, his work explores issues of displacement, belonging and resilience.

Many of the works in Do You Remember What You Are Burning relate the city of Sulaymaniyah, in Iraqi Kurdistan – where the artist was born in 1975 – and his experience as a refugee.

Works on view include One Room Apartment, an outdoor installation originally commissioned for Documenta 14 in 2017, and a new interactive large-scale piece created especially for the show.

Until Saturday, July 24; Jameel Arts Centre, Jaddaf Waterfront, Dubai; jameelartscentre.org

Four new shows at Foundry Downtown Dubai

Over the summer, art space Foundry is hosting four shows in its three galleries, starting with Cramatte’s appropriation of Dubai’s street culture into Pop Art pieces. The artist, a DJ and co-founder of art collective Satwa 3000, takes objects from Dubai’s urban life – the shawarma machine, for example – and transforms them into kitschy and kooky symbols. Meanwhile, graffiti artist Fink 22 experiments with different techniques to look at "urban decay".

Kico Camacho’s exhibition features paintings that reflect on the waterways and rivers from his youth in Argentina. His abstract canvases, with their soft swirls and colours, are an exploration of personal memory and material texture.

Finally, Emirati artist Al Lamki presents works created during the pandemic – his reflections on the past year. His paintings chronicle a transition from the busyness of city life to countryside living. Al Lamki’s work blends figurative and abstract elements to create dreamlike scenes that show momentum and contrast the natural and the man-made.

Until Tuesday, August 25; Foundry Downtown Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard; foundry.downtowndubai.ae

Sedimentary Matters

Caline Aoun’s second solo exhibition at Grey Noise, Sedimentary Matters reveals the hidden stories of the physical world. Highlights include Fictional Accumulation of Real Shadows’ Past, an installation that features pieces of sand-coloured fabric hung on the gallery walls. The shapes of the cloth are drawn from the shadows of the numerous artworks that came before it, with Aoun combing through Grey Noise's exhibition archive since 2012 to develop the work.

The artist, who exhibited at the Sharjah Biennial in 2019 and was selected as Deutsche Bank’s Artist of the Year in 2018, focuses on giving shape to virtual and invisible dimensions or lesser-known histories, digging up traces and materialising them in various ways.

Until Saturday, July 31; Grey Noise, Al Quoz, Dubai; greynoise.org

Cemented Sky at Zawyeh Gallery

Palestinian artist Yazan Abu Salameh depicts everyday life in Bethlehem in his work, mimicking the militaristic infrastructure around him. His concrete artworks bear childhood memories of blockades and watchtowers, but also map out Palestinian neighbourhoods from a bird’s-eye view. These roadblocks and checkpoints are recreated with Lego blocks, cardboard, concrete, pebbles and wire.

Born in Jerusalem in 1993, Abu Salameh studied fine arts at Al-Kalima College in Bethlehem. In 2020, he participated in Ramallah’s first art fair, held at Zawyeh Gallery’s space in the West Bank.

Until Saturday, August 21; Zawyeh Gallery, Alserkal Avenue, Dubai; zawyeh.net

Age of You

Curated by Shumon Basar, Douglas Coupland and Hans Ulrich Obrist, with graphic design UK studio by Daly & Lyon, Age of You considers how our perceptions of ourselves have changed, and what it means to be an individual today.

The exhibition includes works in film, fashion, sculpture and installation by more than 70 contributors, presented through 13 chapters from the newly released book, The Extreme Self: Age of You. The book looks at the impact of the internet on individualism and identity.

Until Saturday, August 14; Jameel Arts Centre, Jaddaf Waterfront, Dubai; jameelartscentre.org

Try to Catch the Moon

Amir Khojasteh’s solo exhibition Try To Catch The Moon, at Carbon 12, is about an impossible task. Beyond that, it contemplates the acceptance of defeat through symbolic paintings that feature the Moon and the horse. The celestial body stands for achievement and victory, while the animal is described as “a means for man towards greatness and power”.

Referencing art history, Khojasteh draws parallels to Jacques-Louis David's Napoleon Crossing the Alps, an equestrian portrait that shows the French military leader Napoleon Bonaparte. In his colourful sculptures, Khojasteh also refers to the portrait. Instead of showing a triumphant figure, however, the artist depicts a "sad fighter".

Until Monday, September 6; Carbon 12, Alserkal Avenue, Dubai; carbon12.art

Under Construction II: Deconstruction / Reconstruction

Lawrie Shabibi builds on its previous group show Under Construction with Under Construction II: Deconstruction / Reconstruction. The exhibition focuses on the notion of a work in progress, with works by Farhad Ahrarnia, Mounir Fatmi, Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim, Nadia Kaabi-Linke, Yazan Khalili, Driss Ouadahi and Larissa Sansour.

Highlights include Ahrarnia’s hand embroideries on digital photography titled On the Road, the Silk Road (2010-2011), which demonstrate the artist’s interest in Greater Persia, and Fatmi’s blend of calligraphic and geometric shapes in works that allude to the fluctuations of the stock market.

From Monday, until Thursday, September 9; Lawrie Shabibi, Alserkal Avenue, Dubai; lawrieshabibi.com

Drop by Drop, Life Falls from the Sky: Water, Islam and Art

On view at the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilisation, Drop by Drop, Life Falls from the Sky: Water, Islam and Art, includes 120 artworks and objects that provide insights into the importance of water in Islam, not only for ablutions, but also its symbolic significance as written in the Quran.

The exhibition explores four themes: the blessings of water and Islam, water and daily life, the traditional hammam and gardens. A number of objects on loan for the exhibition have been drawn from 16 renowned Italian public and private collections and from the collections of Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilisation and Sharjah Art Museum. The list of artefacts includes a range of manuscripts, metalwork, pottery, glass, textiles, carpets and stones linked to Islamic art.

Until Saturday, December 11; Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilisation; sharjahmuseums.ae

'Khayyam Fountain'

Farmanfarmaian’s installation Khayyam Fountain is made up of varyingly shaped glass pieces – triangles, pentagons and hexagons – stacked in layers to form a twisting fountain. Rising above a hollow base, the fountain’s material allows light refractions to shift and shine throughout the day. The form of the fountain evokes the metaphor of water as a constant fount of life.

Now on view at Sharjah Art Foundation’s Al Hamriyah Studios, the work borrows inspiration from Persian polymath Omar Khayyam’s work, which includes explorations of cubic equations. The last major installation to be completed by Farmanfarmaian, Khayyam Fountain was commissioned by Bruges Triennial 2018: Liquid City, Belgium, and is on long-term loan to the foundation.

In her decades-long career, Farmanfarmaian gained recognition for her abstract sculptures and drawings made from glass, mosaic, paper and fabric that drew from geometry, Sufism and Islamic architecture from her native Iran.

On view at Sharjah Art Foundation; sharjahart.org

Updated: July 6th 2021, 4:56 AM
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