June's best UAE art exhibitions

There's still a chance to see some great art before UAE galleries wind down for the summer. Here's our guide to this month's offerings.

Bedouin Tent by the pioneering modern Iraqi artist Faiq Hassan. Courtesy Reem Gallery
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During the ferocity of the summer heat, the galleries wind down their schedules. So, in a last bid for the audiences over June, we give you a round-up of what's on.

Meem Gallery

In an impressive stretch across almost a century of contemporary art, Meem Gallery's group show Modern Iraqi Art: A Collection represents three generations of creative output.

Beginning with Faiq Hassan - who founded the Pioneers Group in the 1940s and is credited as the founder of the Institute of Fine Art's painting department in Baghdad - and moving through to Dia Azzawi, Shakir Hassan Al Said and Ismail Fattah - who cemented Iraqi art's identity in the 1960s and 1970s - the exhibition is a visual archive of expression from the ancient country.

Azzawi's angular, colourful and architectural works have earned him international acclaim and feature in institutions all over the world. His career has been documented over the five shows that Meem has already hosted, providing essential insight into the progression of modern Arab art.

The 1980s are represented by the ethereal figures of Halim Karim and Hanaa Malallah, who laments the loss, destruction and countless invasions of her city in recent years.

It might take some time to soak it all up, but if you have a couple of hours to spare, put Meem on your to-do list this month.

• Runs until July 10

Grey Noise

Somewhere in the fine lines of Nadia Khawaja's abstract works, you find yourself lost. In her show In Search of Me, the Pakistani artist, who is inspired by movement and rhythm, manages, with a simple black felt tip pen, to bring viewers into the dance of her mind.

Whether it is in I Love Language, a set of fictional hieroglyphics that represent a personal yet universal communication, or in the meditative Every Structure Has a Centre, which explores transcendental emotions, viewers join Khawaja on her personal search and at the same time begin their own.

Coupled with the felt pen on paper drawings are a selection of photographic works, Sea for Yourself and Grist for the Mill, which continue with her minimalist abstraction but reveal a new dimension to this young artist, who is now having her third solo show with Grey Noise.

The theme of her oeuvre is difficult to summarise without listing a plethora of conflicts such as separation and integration, simplicity and complexity. Head down and see it for yourself.

• Runs until June 30


The expansive rooms of Cuadro Fine Art Gallery in DIFC make it the ideal space for a group show. After the success of 7 during Art Dubai, the current offering follows the same theme. It is four separately curated exhibitions from a variety of artists.

Alex De Fluvia's layered paintings combine many different cultural references in a series titled Resum, which hangs in the corridor space. In the airy halls at the front end of the gallery hang pieces by three artists from vastly different backgrounds. When seen concurrently, their works prompt a unified and dreamy etherealism.

Noor Al Suwaidi, an Emirati artist who has been under Cuadro's wing for some years, shows The Light in Their Eyes, a series of accessible works that drip colour through the canvas and convey a questioning of emotion.

In the adjacent room is Pierre Durette with Propogations. The French-Canadian artist draws doodles of soldiers, slaves and human activity on top of monuments and technologies that have been built as a result of the activities. One piece depicts the Burj Khalifa and a Western saloon. Another shows the Egyptian god Anubis and the effect is like a cross section of history.

The Canadian Matt Shane, a recent graduate of Cuadro's residency programme (which brings an artist from the west to the UAE for three months and culminates in an exhibition) presents Buildings Too, Are Children of the Earth and Sun. In paintings influenced by views of Dubai and Sharjah, the artist is "talking about the impossibility of these urban landscapes and that at some point the desert will eventually engulf them", explains Roberto Lopardo, the gallery manager.

• All shows run until June 13

The Pavilion

"There is beauty and art in the things we usually walk right past," says Gabriella Moore, the arts and communications co-ordinator at The Pavilion Downtown Dubai about the two artists currently showing in the centre's separate galleries.

Rhea Karam, a Lebanese photographer who explores and records transient testimonies of life in her photographic series Breathing Walls, has captured the words on the street in Egypt through snapshots of graffiti that offer the viewer a window into the chaotic city.

"I could not remain oblivious to these messages," Karam says of her continuing series. "I felt the need to document them as a way to keep an archive of a certain period in time."

In the second gallery, the Emirati artist Farah Al Qasimi presents her first solo show, Hung from the Moon, a photographic exploration of the accidental and the mundane. Al Qasimi chooses lifeless objects to signify identity and existence. At the same time, she explores her own place in the world.

• Both shows run until August 31 but The Pavilion is closed over Ramadan

Don't miss

Although many galleries will close for the summer, a few are still open. Here are three worth checking out

Gallery Isabelle Van Den Eynde

Chromophobia: Abdelkader Benchamma and Jessica Mein

June 19 to July 28

Named after a book by David Batchelor, this show explores the idea that colour can possess the capacity to affect perception and similarly to be affected or moulded by our gaze. In both Benchamme's and Mien's work, colour and form endeavour to organise reality.

The Third Line

Untitled by Rana Begum and The Arrangement by Amir H Fallah

June 19 to July 30

Begum's metal sculptures push the relationship among colour, form and three-dimensional space and explore the boundaries of perception. Upstairs in the Project Space, The Arrangement dissects the imagery of floral still life paintings and presents it in a contemporary form.

Lawrie Shabibi


June 19 to July 18

Traces brings together the works of four artists - Nadia Kaabi Linke, Marwan Sahmarani, Selma Gürbüz and Shahpour Pouyan - highlighting their work on paper and exploring how the intrinsic and associative qualities of the medium affects their work.

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