Photographer Isabelle Avenarius turns Abu Dhabi landmarks into Islamic geometry

Isabelle Avenarius discusses her new exhibition, which uses the capital's landmarks as the basis for her artistic creations.

The works in Isabelle Avenarius’s exhibition, which create Islamic geometric patterns from photographs of Abu Dhabi landmarks. Mosaique Abu Dhabi #5 (Khalidiya Palace). Courtesy Isabelle Avenarius
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This is Abu Dhabi like you have never seen it before. French photographer Isabelle Avenarius has taken photographs of key structures in the city and created a series of beautiful composite images that resemble Islamic geometric patterns.

The series of detailed photographs go on show at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr from ­Wednesday.

From the intricate details of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, to the skyline as seen from Lulu Island and close-ups of Khalidiya Palace Hotel, Avenarius spent several months locating the most impressive structures in the capital before beginning to play with the colour and shapes through her camera.

The photographer, who has lived in the capital since 2012, is part of the Abu Dhabi Art ­Collective and showed one of these images in a group exhibition last year. This week, the complete series will go on display at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr in an exhibition titled Mosaiques – Abu Dhabi. It's her first solo show in the region.

In limited editions of seven pieces each, priced at Dh5,600, the 12 artworks will be hung in the hotel’s long, light-bathed corridor, which overlooks the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque – a fitting place for them to make their debut.

“The idea is to link the past with the present,” says Avenarius. “To pay tribute to Islamic art but at the same time put across my impression of a growing city.”

When seen from a distance, the concentric patterns resemble mosaics or geometric architecture; the details begin to reveal themselves only once you get closer to the image.

Avenarius says she has always been fascinated by this duality of experience. “I was born in Morocco, so since my childhood I have been surrounded by these patterns and have always been interested in them,” she says. “Abu Dhabi is a growing city, compared to some other places in the region. With my series, I wanted to combine the old and the new.”

“Art that encapsulates the wonderful architecture of the UAE always resonates with guests,” says Nils Axing, general manager at the Fairmont, explaining why the collection was chosen. “Isabelle’s photography series takes the monumental buildings around Abu Dhabi and turns them on their heads to create further works of art.”

Avenarius says she is looking forward to hearing the reactions from visitors. “These images are very meditative – everyone can find a different story within the pieces or a reason why they like them. I am excited to open the show and to find out what these stories are.”

Mosaiques – Abu Dhabi runs from April 15 until June 30 at Fairmont Bab Al Bahr hotel. The opening reception is on Wednesday from 7-9pm and is open to all