It’s your last chance to see the ethereal works of Kamal Boullata in Abu Dhabi this weekend. The show ends on May 13. The Palestinian artist has a beautiful show up at Warehoue421 in as part of a year-round programme of featuring participating galleries of Abu Dhabi Art. This past month, they invited Meem Gallery from Dubai.
Over the course of almost five decades, Boullata has created his own abstract language that addresses formal questions of space, colour and transparency, as well as questions around Palestinian identity and exile, referencing. He is an art historian as well as an artist and his references show the range of his erudition: from traditional Palestinian embroidery and the geometry of the Dome of the Rock to French realism and the encounter between King Solomon and Bilqis.
The latter episode is explored in one of his latest series of work that is on show at Warehouse421, alongside, he says, “the discovery of reflection and transparency”, a subject he has just guest-lectured on at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.
Kamal Boullata: A Survey of Recent Paintings brings together work for the first time from Boullata's last three series: Bilqis (2013), Addolcendo (2015–16), and Angelus (2016–17).
For Angelus, for example, he looked at a subject that was frequently represented in Renaissance work, but has recently dropped away: the angelus, or Catholic prayer that is said at dawn, noon, and evening. For Boullata, this prayer is significant in that it crosses religious traditions. It comes from the Annunciation, when the Virgin Mary is told she is bearing Jesus – an "event that is both in the Qu'ran as well as in the synoptic gospels," he notes. The prayer times of the Angelus also correspond to the three of the prayer times in Islam.
Noting that there is only one ("to my knowledge") recent painting of the Angelus, by the French realist painter Jean-Francois Millet in the 1850s, Boullata created a few more: images of the light of the prayers that move through the day.
Kamal Boullata: A Survey of Recent Paintings is at Warehouse421 until May 13. For more info, go to www.warehouse421.ae