Artists brighten up Abu Dhabi’s malls with Art Space initiative

The works are on view in Abu Dhabi's retail spaces until May 2021

Afra Al Suwaidi unveiled her immersive installation at World Trade Centre Mall, Abu Dhabi. Courtesy DCT Abu Dhabi
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Simrin Mehra-Agarwal’s work is a like dense forest – drawings of branches, leaves, tentacle shapes and other organic forms twist into each other to make her complex composition. Now on view at Al Ain’s Al Jimi Mall, her piece is one of three exhibits shown as part of this year’s Art Space initiative by the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi.

Launched in November 2020, Art Space acts as a platform for artists to showcase their works in the capital's retail spaces. The goal is to widen each artist’s audience, while more adding artistic elements to emirate's various commercial areas.

Simrin Mehra-Agarwal is exhibiting her work at Al Jimi Mall. Courtesy DCT Abu Dhabi 

This year, Mehra-Agarwal was chosen for the initiative along with established Emirati painter and sculptor Abdulrahim Salim and emerging artist Afra Al Suwaidi.

Salim's Formations, a series of abstract paintings referencing the maheerah, or muse, is on display at Yas Mall. His canvasses are filled with soft sweeps of colour, as though figures and forms are emerging from a haze. Born in 1955, Salim grew up between Sharjah and Dubai. He completed his fine arts degree at Cairo University and returned to the UAE to become an educator and an early member of the UAE's art scene.

The paintings at Yas Mall are an extension of Salim’s solo exhibition at the capital’s Cultural Foundation that runs until February. Titled Between Serenity and Chaos, the show is composed of six chapters that consider the artist’s subjects and thematic narratives throughout his practice.

A painting by Abdulrahim Salim, on view at Yas Mall, Abu Dhabi. Courtesy DCT Abu Dhabi

Al Suwaidi, who recently exhibited her work for Abu Dhabi Art 2020 as part of the fair’s commissions programme, has unveiled her immersive installation at World Trade Centre Mall, Abu Dhabi. Titled Slumber, the exhibit includes collages and sculptures, as well as objects such as toys, candy and foam. Behind these playful motifs, the Emirati artist tackles on a serious issue in this work, infusing a whimsical setting with dark overtones that hint at trauma and tackle the mistreatment of children.

Afra Al Suwaidi, one of the artists chosen for Art Space. Courtesy DCT Abu Dhabi

Her installation for Abu Dhabi Art featured similar ideas, with Al Suwaidi examining how trauma appears in everyday domestic surroundings.

Both Mehra-Agarwal and Al Suwaidi are currently resident artists at the Cultural Foundation.

In a statement, DCT Abu Dhabi’s chairman, Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, said: “Art Space is a testament to our commitment to supporting Abu Dhabi-based artists, who are critical to the development of a thriving and sustainable cultural and creative ecosystem in the emirate.”

Art Space is the result of a partnership between DCT Abu Dhabi and Aldar Properties, a developer in the emirate that is behind all three malls where the works are currently presented.

The artworks will remain on view until May 2021.