As summer begins, art galleries in the UAE are putting on new shows for the season.
See work by Emirati artist Maitha Abdalla, whose fantastical paintings are filled with symbolism and references to regional folktales. Elsewhere, pieces by Amir Khojasteh employ symbols, too, namely the moon and the horse as a way to depict victory and the tools of power.
Palestinian artist Yazan Abu Salameh replicates the material of military infrastructure found in everyday life in Bethlehem with mixed media works of concrete in a new solo exhibition, plus a group show at Lawrie Shabibi showcases geometric and calligraphic works.
Here are the latest art shows to see in the UAE.
Sedimentary Matters at Grey Noise
Beirut-born Caline Aoun's second solo exhibition at Grey Noise reveals the hidden stories of the physical world. In Sedimentary Matters, a key work called Fictional Accumulation of Real Shadows' Past demonstrates this. The installation features pieces of sand-coloured fabric hung on the gallery walls. The shapes of the cloth have been drawn from the shadows of the numerous artworks that have come 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.
On view until Saturday, July 31 at Grey Noise, Dubai; greynoise.org
Scars by Daylight at Tabari Art Space
Maitha Abdalla’s surrealist works, which range from paintings and photographs to installation, draw from Emirati folklore. In Scars by Daylight, she depicts the transformation into adulthood through animal characters, specifically the rooster and the pig. For Abdalla, the rooster symbolises forgiveness and innocence, while the pig represents corruption and sin.
The artist, who studied visual arts at Zayed University, is one of the founders of the artist-run studio and exhibition space Bait 15 in Abu Dhabi. She also completed a fellowship for the Salama Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation, or Seaf programme, in 2017, and presented her first solo exhibition, Hollowed, at Warehouse421 in 2019.
On view from Wednesday to Sunday, June 2 to 13 at Tabari Art Space; tabariartspace.com
Cemented Sky at Zawyeh Gallery
Palestinian artist Yazan Abu Salameh depicts everyday life in Bethlehem in his work, mimicking the concrete militaristic infrastructure around him. His concrete artworks bear childhood memories of blockades, watchtowers, but also mapping 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 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.
On view until Saturday, August 21 at Zawyeh Gallery, Dubai; zawyeh.net
Wonder Land at Taskheel
The first exhibition by film curator, artist and podcaster Hind Mezaina presents glimpses of Dubai that typically remain unnoticed. Her latest work concludes her year-long research for Tashkeel's 2020 Critical Practice Programme and was produced during the start of the pandemic.
The Emirati artist captures the lull in her hometown of Dubai as Covid-19 began to take hold across the world. Through her film photography, Mezaina looks at the city anew, adopting “an almost third-person objectivity towards it”, says Lisa Ball-Lechgar, the deputy director of Tashkeel.
Mezaina has exhibited at the Sharjah Biennial and was part of Abu Dhabi Art's Beyond: Emerging Artists last year. As a film curator, she has developed programmes for Louvre Abu Dhabi and Sharjah Art Foundation.
On view until Tuesday, July 6 at Tashkeel, Dubai; tashkeel.org
Try to Catch the Moon at Carbon 12
Amir Khojasteh’s solo exhibition, Try To Catch The Moon, implies the impossibility of this physical endeavour, and simultaneously, the triumphant overcoming thereof.
Suspended within a twilight zone, with forms that overlay and intertwine, fold and unfurl, his paintings and sculptures tread the line between rest and unrest, peace and chaos.
As the title reveals, Khojasteh’s exhibition is about an impossible task – but more than that, it considers notions of hope and accepting defeat. The Iranian artist uses two symbols in his paintings: 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 is drawing 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".
On view at Carbon 12 until Monday, September 6; carbon12.art
Under Construction at Lawrie Shabibi
Group show Under Construction features works by Emirati artist Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim, Hamra Abbas from Kuwait, Driss Ouadahi and Mounir Fatmi, both from Morocco, Nadia Kaabi-Linke from Tunisia and Nathaniel Rackowe from the UK.
Ouadahi and Rackowe’s works were inspired by the artists witnessing Dubai’s construction boom over the last decade. Ouadahi created a series of modelled impressions of the city built from photographs and memories, while Rackowe produced bitumen paintings drawn from photographs of Dubai taken in 2014.
The show also includes Abbas’s marble works, which play with geometric forms, referencing Sol LeWitt’s Incomplete Open Cube drawings, and Nadia Kaabi-Linke’s arrangement in Kufic script, made of manicure and pedicure instruments.
On view until Saturday, June 26 at Lawrie Shabibi; lawrieshabibi.com