No Mask Required: new Dubai art exhibition explores how the human face is portrayed

Opening on May 17, the XVA Gallery show will feature the work of 10 regional and international artists

'Untitled' by Sabhan Adam, which will be on view as part of No Mask Required at Dubai's XVA Gallery. Photo: Sabhan Adam; XVA Gallery
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The XVA Gallery in Dubai has announced its summer group exhibition called No Mask Required, which will open on May 17.

Featuring the work of 10 artists from Canada, Europe and the Middle East, the show will examine how the human face is portrayed, a timely subject given face mask requirements around the world amid the pandemic.

With our faces central to ideas of identity and self, from our reflection in the mirror every day to the need for immortality through paintings — and more recently, selfies — this new exhibition sets out to challenge what constitutes a portrait in the modern age.

Taking part is the acclaimed Iraqi artist Halim Al Karim, whose purposefully blurred photographic portraits raise questions about the identity of the almost-seen sitter, while Saudi artist Hussein Al-Mohasen, also part of the show, seeks to frame Arabic poetry and music through a contemporary lens.

Algerian artist Yazid Oulab, who now lives in France, uses video installations, drawings and sculpture to broach the issue of the meaning of life and looks to bridge the worlds of the tangible and the ethereal.

Meanwhile, the entirely self-taught Syrian artist Sabhan Adam, uses vivid coloured paint and plastic to create violent works that try to capture the “pain, fear and phobia” of the human condition.

From farther afield is Arezu, a Canadian artist who draws inspiration from historical paintings of women, stripped of their identity and reduced to objects.

Jonathan Gent, who is also participating, is a Scottish artist who takes inspiration from his ever-changing location. Having had studios in 20 countries, he has never remained in one place longer than two years. Globally acclaimed, his work has been shown at the Scottish National Gallery, The Saatchi gallery and The Freud museum.

No Mask Required opens on May 17 and runs until September 15; XVA Gallery, Al Fahidi Historical District, Dubai;

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Updated: May 08, 2022, 12:24 PM