Urban Break (acrylic on canvas) by Philip Mueller
Urban Break (acrylic on canvas) by Philip Mueller

Summer of culture



Hang on, did you say exhibitions? In the summer? Doesn't the UAE close down in July? Not any more, it seems. While in the past just a few stalwart galleries have kept the flag flying in the hot months, this year, recession notwithstanding, the art scene doggedly continues to be active and most of the spaces in Dubai and the UAE have some sort of exhibition during the summer, whether it's a solo or group show.

The term "summer exhibition", though, tends to connote a particular type of exhibition, usually showing the works of several artists already connected to the gallery. Perhaps this derives from the ultimate group exhibition, the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in London, to which, for the past 241 years, any artist, professional or amateur, has been able to submit work. It's a sprawling, unfocused but fascinating presentation of 1,200 works, chosen from around 10,000 pieces.

The UAE's crop of summer group exhibitions is certainly less ambitious, but all the more manageable for that: a wander around the RA in July is an arduous feat, which can take hours and result in glazed-over eyes and a desperate thirst for coffee. Here, instead, a number of private galleries have pulled together some of their favourite artists for small group exhibitions that, in fact, can be a more rewarding experience for the gallery-goer than the solo exhibitions that have so much more credibility. Indeed, while the well-established galleries have their regular visitors, who go to almost every show and may find this sort of thing a tad dull, for the newcomer it is an opportunity to suss out the inclinations of each gallery. Equally, rather than simply using the summer exhibition as a sort of convenient holding room during the quiet season, curators are starting to see it as a chance to set out their stalls, indicating the direction future exhibitions might take. The XVA gallery in Bastakiya, which annually presents a summer show, is doing just that with its current outing, displaying the works of eight international artists, some of whom live in Dubai, and three of whom are newcomers whose works will be displayed in the coming season.

"It can be quite intimidating to go to a solo exhibition, and you might not take to the artists, whereas here the chances of there being something appealing is that much higher. It's vitality by variety," explains Rosie Hayes, the director of the XVA gallery. "It's a mixed bag of new talent and it's about seeing art in a new way rather than as a single or double exhibition. It's quite a fun mixture, and that's the point really: there are all types of art, some of which is very modern, some Warhol-esque, some mixed media conceptual art - there's just a real combination of different themes and ideas, some more traditional than others." Here are some of the highlights of the summer.

As one of Dubai's best-known galleries, the XVA in Bastakiya is a pioneer of the Summer Collection here, but this time it has taken a different approach to previous years by including the work of three artists new to the gallery's roster, Colleen Quigley, Mélanie Sarrasin and Jakob Roepke. Quigley's brightly coloured Pop-style installations are quite a leap from some of her previous painted works - she is interested, in her words, in "developing a visual language using ready made (prefabricated) materials that challenge our perceptions of art in a post modern landscape."

That translates into the work Do whatever you do intensely, a vivid word-based wall sculpture made from a mosaic of brightly coloured pieces of plastic. Sarrasin, meanwhile, is a Canadian painter, whose abstract oil canvases are in a more conventional style, but seem to be informed by her concurrent architectural practice in Montreal. Finally, Roepke is an artist from Berlin, who has made more than 900 of his small, painterly collages since the mid-1990s. With an easy-on-the-eye approach and a humorous, naive style, this could be one of the XVA's more commercially savvy decisions. Besides the newcomers are the American painter Julia Townsend, the Saudi expressionist Hussein Almohasen, the Syrian abstract painter Thaer Khazem, the Lebanese graphic artist Laudi Abilama and the British artist Jonathan Gent. Until July 30, then Sept 1-23 2009. www.xvagallery.com.

The ever-stylish Boutique 1 Gallery at The Walk in Dubai's Jumeirah Beach Residence is a reliable source of desirable art, curated by Fadi Mogabgab, whose own establishment in Beirut is highly rated. This summer, the first since the gallery opened in November, there are works from the extremely eminent artists already featured at Boutique 1, including the likes of Alexander Calder and Joán Miro, and living artists including the Lebanese photographer Joanna Andraos and the spectacular iris paintings of Georgi Andonov. And if you don't buy a work of art in the gallery, you can always take a look at those on the racks of the boutique on your way out. Until July 30, www.boutique1.com.

Taking the classic approach of a summer round-up, Ayyam's exhibition, Levant Summer, includes work by each of its regular artists, all of whom, unsurprisingly, hail from the Levant region. Luckily the extensive roster at the gallery in Al Quoz, Dubai, is already fairly diverse in terms of style, so the result is a lively and varied collection of works in a well-planned space - though the emphasis remains on large-scale oil paintings. Particularly appealing are the works of three Syrian painters, Mouteea Murad, Nihad al Turk and Kais Salman. The huge, colourful grids by Murad, whose transformation from an adherent of monochrome to a master of technicolour has been a spectacular success. Al Turk, meanwhile, also an excellent colourist, specialises in angst-ridden still life paintings. I s it possible to have an anguished bowl of fruit? Al Turk certainly seems to think so. Finally, Salman's semi-abstract figurative paintings are somehow reminiscent of 1960s interpretations of stylised tribal figures, simultaneously ugly, frightening and rather endearing. Until Aug 15, www.ayyamgallery.com.

Going one step further than the XVA in a quest for newness, Carbon 12's summer group show, Seven Positions, features the work of seven emerging artists sought out over the last two years by the Dubai Marina gallery's curators. In an attempt to mark a shift in the art world as it moves from postmodernism to a new kind of practice prompted by the 21st century's technology-based social changes, Carbon 12 has picked out artists who engage intellectually with these issues, but who are still young enough to retain some of that energy and idealism that is easily lost in the cynicism of the art world. Among the highlights are the works of Florian Hafele, whose surrealist sculptures are like high-energy, optimistic versions of the mutilated figures of Jake and Dinos Chapman; and the youthful Philip Mueller, a painter whose strangely compelling compositions feature startling but humorous juxtapositions of subject and a pleasingly streetwise technique. Until October, www.carbon12dubai.com.

Through the summer, the works of the Ghaf's owners, Jalal Luqman and Mohammed Kanoo, both artists in their own rights, and the digital artist Sumayyah al Suwaidi will be on show in Abu Dhabi. Both Al Suwaidi and Luqman take a deeply emotional, fantastical approach to their works, which involve digital image manipulation, Luqman's often including some sculptural aspect as well. Kanoo, meanwhile, has a more minimalist approach, applying his distinctly Pop sensibilities to Emirati icons such as the ghutra. Until Aug 17, www.ghafgallery.com.

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

Naga

Director: Meshal Al Jaser

Starring: Adwa Bader, Yazeed Almajyul, Khalid Bin Shaddad

Rating: 4/5

Defending champions

World Series: South Africa
Women’s World Series: Australia
Gulf Men’s League: Dubai Exiles
Gulf Men’s Social: Mediclinic Barrelhouse Warriors
Gulf Vets: Jebel Ali Dragons Veterans
Gulf Women: Dubai Sports City Eagles
Gulf Under 19: British School Al Khubairat
Gulf Under 19 Girls: Dubai Exiles
UAE National Schools: Al Safa School
International Invitational: Speranza 22
International Vets: Joining Jack

The specs: 2019 Jeep Wrangler

Price, base: Dh132,000

Engine: 3.6-litre V6

Gearbox: Eight-speed automatic

Power: 285hp @ 6,400rpm

Torque: 347Nm @ 4,100rpm

Fuel economy, combined: 9.6L to 10.3L / 100km

Profile

Company: Libra Project

Based: Masdar City, ADGM, London and Delaware

Launch year: 2017

Size: A team of 12 with six employed full-time

Sector: Renewable energy

Funding: $500,000 in Series A funding from family and friends in 2018. A Series B round looking to raise $1.5m is now live.

BIRD BOX BARCELONA

Directors: David and Alex Pastor
Stars: Georgina Campbell, Mario Casas, Diego Calva
Rating: 2/5

The five pillars of Islam

1. Fasting

2. Prayer

3. Hajj

4. Shahada

5. Zakat

Coffee: black death or elixir of life?

It is among the greatest health debates of our time; splashed across newspapers with contradicting headlines - is coffee good for you or not?

Depending on what you read, it is either a cancer-causing, sleep-depriving, stomach ulcer-inducing black death or the secret to long life, cutting the chance of stroke, diabetes and cancer.

The latest research - a study of 8,412 people across the UK who each underwent an MRI heart scan - is intended to put to bed (caffeine allowing) conflicting reports of the pros and cons of consumption.

The study, funded by the British Heart Foundation, contradicted previous findings that it stiffens arteries, putting pressure on the heart and increasing the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke, leading to warnings to cut down.

Numerous studies have recognised the benefits of coffee in cutting oral and esophageal cancer, the risk of a stroke and cirrhosis of the liver. 

The benefits are often linked to biologically active compounds including caffeine, flavonoids, lignans, and other polyphenols, which benefit the body. These and othetr coffee compounds regulate genes involved in DNA repair, have anti-inflammatory properties and are associated with lower risk of insulin resistance, which is linked to type-2 diabetes.

But as doctors warn, too much of anything is inadvisable. The British Heart Foundation found the heaviest coffee drinkers in the study were most likely to be men who smoked and drank alcohol regularly.

Excessive amounts of coffee also unsettle the stomach causing or contributing to stomach ulcers. It also stains the teeth over time, hampers absorption of minerals and vitamins like zinc and iron.

It also raises blood pressure, which is largely problematic for people with existing conditions.

So the heaviest drinkers of the black stuff - some in the study had up to 25 cups per day - may want to rein it in.

Rory Reynolds

No more lice

Defining head lice

Pediculus humanus capitis are tiny wingless insects that feed on blood from the human scalp. The adult head louse is up to 3mm long, has six legs, and is tan to greyish-white in colour. The female lives up to four weeks and, once mature, can lay up to 10 eggs per day. These tiny nits firmly attach to the base of the hair shaft, get incubated by body heat and hatch in eight days or so.

Identifying lice

Lice can be identified by itching or a tickling sensation of something moving within the hair. One can confirm that a person has lice by looking closely through the hair and scalp for nits, nymphs or lice. Head lice are most frequently located behind the ears and near the neckline.

Treating lice at home

Head lice must be treated as soon as they are spotted. Start by checking everyone in the family for them, then follow these steps. Remove and wash all clothing and bedding with hot water. Apply medicine according to the label instructions. If some live lice are still found eight to 12 hours after treatment, but are moving more slowly than before, do not re-treat. Comb dead and remaining live lice out of the hair using a fine-toothed comb.
After the initial treatment, check for, comb and remove nits and lice from hair every two to three days. Soak combs and brushes in hot water for 10 minutes.Vacuum the floor and furniture, particularly where the infested person sat or lay.

Courtesy Dr Vishal Rajmal Mehta, specialist paediatrics, RAK Hospital

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures

Scorecard:

England 458 & 119/1 (51.0 ov)

South Africa 361

England lead by 216 runs with 9 wickets remaining


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