The Leila Heller Gallery presents three simultaneous shows this fall: by Lebanese artist Ali Cha’aban, titled “I Guess I Am Still Angry,” by Iranian artist Farideh Lashai, titled “Between the Flower and the Mountain: Woodcut Prints and Darbandsar Mountains, 1981-1987” and lastly “A 60-Year Retrospective” by Jehangir Vazifdar, one of India’s most prolific modern artists, all of which are displayed at their Dubai space in Alserkal.
“I Guess I Am Still Angry” delves into the profound theme of childhood nostalgic utopia, exploring the intricate facets of memory, yearning, and the pursuit of an idealised past. Ali Cha’aban aims to unveil the captivating concept of childhood nostalgia, where fragments of our utopian memories from youth reside deep within us. The exhibition seeks to examine the potency of these recollections and how they shape our worldview while influencing our aspirations for a brighter future. The show embraces anger as a catalyst for constructive change and self-discovery. Ali Cha’aban draws from his own life experiences to delve into the complexities of anger, inviting viewers to engage with this often misunderstood emotion and reconsider its role in our lives. The essence of childhood nostalgic utopia often stems from a longing for lost innocence, a time when the world appeared simpler and more hopeful. Through his artwork, Ali challenges societal narratives and stereotypes related to identity and anger, highlighting its potential as a driving force for positive transformation and personal growth. This collection serves as a means to revisit both old memories and artworks that have profoundly influenced Ali’s journey to becoming the artist he is today.
“Between the Flower and the Mountain: Woodcut Prints and Darbandsar Mountains, 1981-1987,” showcases Farideh Lashai’s artistic journey which is deeply intertwined with her upbringing along the lush Caspian Sea coast. Her childhood was marked by a fervent passion for painting, earning her the nickname “nakhash bashi,” which means painter in Persian. Later in life, Farideh ventured to Germany to study literature and was captivated by the works of literary giants like Heinrich Boll and the epic theatre of Bertolt Brecht. Her artistic pursuits led her to master the art of crystal design and carving in Austria, which culminated in her first exhibition featuring crystal works in Milan’s Crystelleria Duomo. Farideh’s artistic journey was not confined to visual art alone; she also ventured into literary translations and poetry, making her mark in the literary world. Her artistic endeavours encompassed a wide range of subjects, including nature, politics, and the surreal. Despite facing personal challenges, including arrest and exile, Farideh Lashai’s passion for art endured. Her works evolved to incorporate moving images, projections, and themes inspired by literature and film. Her artistic legacy includes unique interpretations of Goya’s “Disasters of War,” Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland,” and Mohammad Mossadegh, reflecting her multidimensional creative spirit. In her later years, Farideh explored surrealism, which provided an escape from the harsh realities of the world. Her memoir, “Shal Bamu (The Jackal Game),” offers a glimpse into her inner world, filled with love, loss, and memories. Farideh Lashai’s contributions to the art world continue to resonate, demonstrating the enduring power of creativity and imagination.
Jehangir Vazifdar, is known not only for his artistic prowess but also for his architectural contributions to Mumbai. “A 60-Year Retrospective” embodies a unique approach to art that remains largely undiscovered by the public. Refusing to commercialise his art, he kept his works hidden for an extended period. Jehangir Vazifdar’s art communicates through a distinct language of colour, allowing viewers to interpret his paintings like a narrative. His use of colour symbolism, associating white with death, black with peace, and a combination of both with heaven, showcases his innovative approach to conveying abstract concepts and emotions. His unpublished “Colour Alphabet and Dictionary” documents these intricate correlations. One of Vazifdar’s most notable achievements in his artistic career is the development of the “Fake-proof” technique, characterised by a combination of horizontal and vertical brush strokes, along with thick strokes created using a foot-rule. This technique, coupled with the direct application of colours from tubes onto the canvas, makes his works impossible to replicate. Jehangir Vazifdar’s contributions to the art world extend beyond his canvas, reflecting his visionary approach and dedication to pushing artistic boundaries. His mastery of colour and innovative techniques ensure his enduring legacy in the realm of modern art. The Leila Heller Gallery invites art enthusiasts to explore and appreciate the remarkable oeuvre of this multifaceted artist.
About Leila Heller Gallery
For more than four decades, the Leila Heller Gallery, established in New York, has been at the forefront of fostering creative interactions between Western artists and those from the Middle East, Central Asia, and Southeast Asia. The gallery has earned global acclaim for its role in identifying and nurturing artists who have made a lasting impact on contemporary art and culture. Representing a diverse range of artists from Western, Central Asian, Southeast Asian, and Middle Eastern backgrounds, the gallery is actively engaged in the secondary art markets across America, Europe, and the Middle East.
In November 2015, Leila Heller Gallery expanded its footprint with an international location in Dubai’s Alserkal Avenue, boasting a state-of-the-art 16,000-square-foot space with three exhibition areas, making it the UAE’s largest gallery. This venue serves as a platform for renowned regional and international artists, many of whom will present their works in the Middle East.
In addition to its dynamic exhibition schedule, the gallery collaborates with world-renowned curators, hosts educational panels and film screenings, and produces scholarly catalogues and books. Each year, Leila Heller Gallery participates in major international art fairs and organises off-site projects to facilitate new dialogues within a broader context of galleries, artists, and institutions. Gallery artists consistently contribute to international museum exhibitions and biennials and are featured in prestigious institutional collections worldwide.
Location: Leila Heller Gallery, Dubai
Dates: 28 September – 14 November 2023