Curated by at Art Dubai 2024 Contemporary

A selection of galleries exhibiting in the Contemporary section from Art Dubai’s 17th edition have chosen a work from their booth. Here’s what they had to say:

Efie Gallery:

El Anatsui, The Bend in The River, 2022. 125 cm x 343 cm. Tropical hardwood and aluminium bottlecaps.

The Bend in the River is a work from El Anatsui’s newest series of wooden sculptures that marry his widely recognisable use of bottlecaps with his earlier practice in wood.

The Bend in the River is completed by saturated fields of acrylic paint and bottlecaps seen in a vertical burst on the right side of work, interrupting the otherwise natural tones and blurring the lines between painting and sculpture. The different colours of the chosen slabs of wood recall the diversity of the continent, while the power tools used represent the violence that African people have endured, symbolism further enhanced by the blow torch or acetylene torch used to literally scorch the surface of the piece.

El Anatsui, The Bend In The River, 2022. 125 cm x 343 cm. Tropical hardwood and aluminium bottlecaps. Courtesy of Efie Gallery and Artist.

Mario Mauroner Contemporary Art Salzburg:

Rashid Al Khalifa, Reality is Timeless, 2024, Steel Frame cladded with aluminium, Enamel based paint with gold leaf, 206 x 202 x 104 cm

Rashid Al Khalifa creates fragments of a labyrinth, relics that emerge from the ground, tilted at varying angles. Is this the discovery of a lost labyrinth or the materialisation of hauntingly futuristic artifacts? Rashid plays on this concept of time and discovery, of the modern and ancient through these fragments, whereby each piece is reminiscent of ancient mythology and yet, they are strikingly contemporary. Furthermore, upon each fragment are different motifs adopted from the diagram of the Egyptian labyrinth presented by the 17th century Jesuit scholar Anthanasius Kircher in his book Turris Babel (1679). Kircher’s labyrinth is largely derived from the description of Herodotos who described a similar structure in Faiyum. The perforated motifs on the copper and brass exterior, beautifully oxidise and cast shadows of light on the ground around the visitors, as they traverse the installation.

This work shown at Art Dubai, is a miniature version of the large-scale installation that was displayed at Forever is Now III at the Pyramids of Giza, Egypt in 2023.

Rashid Al Khalifa “Reality is timeless”, 2024, Steel Frame cladded with aluminium, Enamel based paint with gold leaf, 206 x 202 x 104 cm.

Sabrina Amrani:

Jorge Tacla, Identidad Oculta 69, 2014, Oil and cold wax on canvas, 145 × 160 cm.

Identidad Oculta 69 represents a vision of the Gaza strip; on the canvas, a dense layer of cold wax and pigments is applied and gradually removed, as looking for the “bones” of the painting, similar to Ferlini’s explorations. Tacla’s paintings are in the joints of new architectures arising in the wake of catastrophe—natural or man-made. Tacla illuminates the variability of identity for victim and aggressor – disassociated from his own – and the complexity of the assessment of guilt.

Jorge Tacla, Identidad Oculta 69, 2014, Oil and cold wax on canvas, 145 × 160 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Sabrina Amrani

Galerie Tanit:

Adel Abidin, Tire, 2024, Resin Sculpture Reinforced with Fiberglass, 64.5 x 28.5 x 12.5 cm, Edition of 3.

Tire (2024) showcases an everted car tire turned inside out, offering a reflection on our contemporary political world. The work prompts us to question the authenticity of our observations—does it truly represent itself, or is it merely an illusion projected onto an object? The inspiration for this concept is drawn from a common Iraqi saying that implies life is a continual process of turning inside out, where nothing strictly adheres to the logic of appearances.

Adel Abidin, Tire, 2024, Resin Sculpture Reinforced with Fiberglass, 64.5 x 28.5 x 12.5 cm, Edition of 3. Image courtesy of Adel Abidin and Galerie Tanit Beyrouth/Munich.

Saleh Barakat Gallery:

Nabil Nahas, Acrylic on canvas, 135 x 113 cm, 2023.

The Fractals series is perhaps the best-known work of acclaimed Lebanese painter Nabil Nahas. Developing from a fascination with the optical phenomena derived from his close observation of the natural world, the work moves towards a vision of pantheism as life that is one with multiple manifestations. To this end Nahas’s fractal series is deeply engaged with the push and pull of the natural world, the forces of the tides, for example, where he first discovered his fascination with the the theme. This complex and enduring work is extraordinarily rich in its employ of texture and colour, but carries within that optical view a deeper meditation, a sense in which the forms that comprise the images are but a sample, and a continuation, of the oneness and synchronicity that is inherent to the order and meaning of the pantheistic worldview.

Nabil Nahas, Acrylic on canvas, 135 x 113 cm, 2023.

Carbon 12:

Sarah Almehairi, Off Centered Control, 2024, Acrylic on wood and canvas, 150 x 100 cm.

Sarah Almehairi’s overarching body of work unfolds a discourse on themes of materiality, systems & interrelations, memory, and language through the intuitive and poetic examination of narrative and abstraction. By engaging with geometric forms, she extracts and defines a structural language read time and time again to suggest a form other than its own – a map, a sentence, a puzzle piece. Through the process, they are broken down, built, and reassembled as continuous iterations of themselves. These elements towards telling a story are not so explicit, lines and layers are used throughout her pieces as a means of exploring clarity and organisation of collected information. Working primarily with investigative range of media, she explores the push and pull of material to evoke a story that both conceals and reveals itself.

Sarah Almehairi, Off Centered Control , 2024, Acrylic on wood and canvas, 150 x 100 cm. Courtesy of CARBON 12.

Wadi Finan Gallery:

Huniti Goldox, Topo 2 (Pleiße River), 2023, Aluminum and CNC milling, 85 x 55cm

In response to a request of future inhabitants, Huniti Goldox creates a series of aquatic fossil records taking on the form of aluminium reliefs. Within them, traces of violence on land and water surfaces are exposed. These fossilized panels reveal territorial histories, bearing imprints of human interventions, contamination and manipulation. They convey more-than-human resistance against today’s extractive reality, raising questions about future perspectives. How do future scenarios appear to algae, Cambrian worms, or E. coli in polluted environments?

Huniti Goldox, Topo 2 (Pleiße River), 2023, Aluminum and CNC milling, 85 x 55cm

Albarrán Bourdais Gallery:

Riots on the Moon 03, Carlos Amorales, 2023. 

Riots on the Moon 03″ is part of a series of large-format paintings created using a word-to-image artificial intelligence program. Inspired by French poet Henri Michaux’s calligraphic works from the 1960s and clashes between protesters and riot police, they depict different moments of the riots: the gathering of the mass of protesters, the march, the shouting, the confrontation with the police, the charges, the clashes, the repression and the escape.

Riots on the Moon 03, Carlos Amorales, 2023. Courtesy of Albarrán Bourdais

Gallery 1957:

Nadia Waheed, Orchestra, Oil on canvas, 182.9 x 213.4 cm

In a kind of post-apocalyptic realm that defies geographical categorisation, Waheed’s landscapes are not so much places, but states of existence-beyond space, time, and definition. In the painting titled ‘Orchestra,’ Waheed uses many shades of black and a self-portrait female figure embracing the universe. The canvas is alluring in its representation of celestial space as the artist depicts the grand and intricate architecture of the Wazir Khan Mosque in northern Pakistan. Waheed layers the architectural elements of the famous Mosque with abstract and illegible Arabic onto the canvas, the globe beneath being encompassed by a figure who gazes downwards in a place of suspension, warm like the sun.

Nadia Waheed, Orchestra, Oil on canvas, 182.9 x 213.4 cm. Image courtesy of the artist and Gallery 1957.

Athr Gallery:

Ayman Yossri Daydban, Distortion 13, 2011, Stainless steel, 150 x 39 x 20 cm.

Stainless steel sheets serve as frozen individual identities, mirroring the evolving world without influencing it. Yet, as they unfold, they symbolise humanity’s struggle to escape imposed stereotypes, embracing a multicultural mindset. The process of shaping these sheets, with its patience and repetition, parallels the arduous journey of personal formation. Each hammer blow and fold reflects the violent, sometimes painful, yet transformative process of becoming a unique individual in the universe.

Ayman Yossri Daydban, Distortion 13, 2011, Stainless steel, 150 x 39 x 20 cm.

Giorgio Persano Gallery:

Taus Makhacheva Roundtable of Fictives, 2021 toy set, wood, brass 59 x 48,5 x 53 cm.

Taus Makhacheva creates works that explore the restless connections between historical narratives and fictions of cultural authenticity. Her art considers the resilience of images, objects and bodies emerging out of stories and personal experiences. Makhacheva’s artworks have been exhibited in major art institutions worldwide and appear in the collections of prestigious museums such as the Centre Pompidou – Paris, Kadist Art Foundation – Paris and San Francisco, Moscow Museum of Modern Art – Moscow, Museum of Modern Art – Antwerp, P. S. Gamzatova Dagestan Museum of Fine Arts – Makhachkala, Sharjah Art Foundation – Sharjah, Tate Modern – London, Van Abbemuseum – Eindhoven. A wooden box unfolds into a toy set revealing a roundtable of 8 characters that include Text, the World Elephant, Hocus-Pocus, Fungus Prosaicus, Hans and Sophie, Apple on a Plate, a Holy Fool and Glass, Lead, Paper, Water. The set is accompanied by a monologue card for each one, and all members of this peculiar ensemble serve as emotional, psychological and imaginative support structures for anyone who plays with them. However, the act of playing also crumbles the support they stand to offer. The work is a playful attempt to toy with the idea of coping mechanisms, bend support structures when they become too rigid, explore new footings one can rely on and at the same time expose the malleability of existing foundations.

Taus Makhacheva Roundtable of Fictives, 2021 toy set, wood, brass 59 x 48,5 x 53 cm.

Tabari Artspace:

Samah Shihadi, Cloudhead, 2022, charcoal on paper, 70 x 50 cm.

Shihadi uses metaphorical symbols to enshroud other – visibly independent – female figures in her work in surreal atmospheres. In part inspired by classical tarot cards and astrology, Shihadi mythologises the woman in a series of mystical self-portraits. The artist portrays herself as Lady Justice, a high priestess or an empress. Stately and powerful. With attributes such as a sword and scales, borrowed from Western legal symbology dating back to Roman times. Or with a Coptic cross, the sign of life stemming from ancient Egypt. The woman here has an inviolable, almost supernatural status. She has a magical identity, which transcends religion and background.

Samah Shihadi, Cloudhead, 2022, charcoal on paper, 70 x 50 cm.

Experimenter:

Radhika Khimji, Diamonds in the sky with diamonds, Oil and gesso on photo transfer and birch plywood, 72 x 48 x 2 in, 2024. 

Traversing the macrocosm through one’s body as a way of seeing and experiencing, Radhika Khimji (b. 1979; lives and works between Muscat, Oman and London, United Kingdom) draws on an array of mediums and a layered technique of mark-making to reimagine geographies and abstract aspects of the environment. Khimji’s visual language searches for a place between architecture and gesture through a collaged way of working. Informed by the physicality and materiality of the making process, Khimji’s work navigates the perpetual displacements of the transitory and fluid body moving across a space fragmented by many polarities.

Radhika Khimji, Diamonds in the sky with diamonds, Oil and gesso on photo transfer and birch plywood, 72 x 48 x 2 in, 2024. Courtesy The Artist and Experimenter.

Gallery Isabelle:

Abdelkader Benchamma, Trees, Ashes, 2023 Ink and acrylic on paper 114 x 150.5 cm

In light of Abdelkader Benchamma’s recent nomination for the 2024 Prix Marcel Duchamp, we would like to highlight his work Trees – Ashes (2023), which is an example of his series Book of Miracles – Vanishing Trees.  We are incredibly excited to have received this work for our artist Abdelkader Benchamma, who we have been showing in this region since 2012.

Benchamma’s Book of Miracles series assumes the form of highly detailed drawings, reflecting on the challenges of a process with one overarching constraint: creating a colourful drawing utilising only black or dark tones.

Benchamma takes cues from the 17th century Book of Miracles, delving into mythologies and cosmic observations. Conjuring otherworldly landscapes filled with trees and shrubs, he suggests the cycle of life in transformation, rebirth, and renewal.

He also references hoax modern miracles circulating on the internet. With the use of photo manipulation, visuals from the natural world are reworked by people so to spell the name of Allah or verses from the Quran onto branches or reflected on bodies of water, driven by a need to project spiritual qualities onto nature.

In this particular work, the word ‘Ash-hadu’, as recited in Muslim prayers, simultaneously appears and disappears, and which suggests that the energy of nature is divine.

Abdelkader Benchamma, Trees – Ashes, 2023 Ink and acrylic on paper 114 x 150.5 cm

Dastan Gallery:

Pooya Aryanpour, Untitled, 2024, Kiln-fired dyed glass, mirror fragment, and plaster on fiberglass structure with Styrofoam core, 140 x 161 x 38 cm

Pooya Aryanpour has shown keen interest in waves and curves throughout his career. In his Untitled 140 x 161 x 38 cm sculpture (2024), Aryanpour is showing us a protean three-dimensional form imbued with a fluidity derived not only from its form but in association with the tiny coloured mirrors pieced together to refract light. It is a flag that strives to free itself of the bounds of matter. The kiln-fired dyed glass, mirror fragments shapeshift with the viewer, who moves around it to see what the form presents in its different facets.

Pooya Aryanpour, Untitled, 2024, Kiln-fired dyed glass, mirror fragment, and plaster on fiberglass structure with Styrofoam core, 140 x 161 x 38 cm

Galerie Krinzinger:

Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, Hesam Rahmanian HHR/S 6, Alluvium (Climate Protestors), 2023 – 2024, acrylic, gesso, ink, watercolour, gouache, collage on clay plates and iron (selenium toned of 7 plates), 237 x 115 x 70 cm

Each molecule is comprised of multiple dangling metal bars acting as bonds between the clay plates. The temporal recordings on plates are a retelling of stories of our times influenced by our daily living environment and the socio-political news and the state of world. The pre-existing media images are defamiliarised, decentralised as we each set out to work on them through collage and painting. The final images are no longer readily recognisable, but they may trigger the collective memory of a familiar event on topics that concern us: transhumanism, natural disasters, chaos, power, technical advancement, migration, media and political propaganda. They also include thought fragments, emotions, learnings, observation and influences from our daily lives – whether it be a piece of poetry, a picture, a piece of music, a line in a book or an encounter.

Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, Hesam Rahmanian HHR/S 6. Alluvium (Climate Protestors), 2023 – 2024, acrylic, gesso, ink, watercolour, gouache, collage on clay plates and iron (selenium toned of 7 plates), 237 x 115 x 70 cm

Comptoir des Mines:

Sara Ouahaddou, Izoul Zman Ighzif – Time is Still Long, Beyond Our Perception, 2024, Cedar wood, Iraqi glass, Moorish glass, transparent glass, brass and copper, Diam. 170 cm, Depth 7 cm, With the participation of artisans Mohamed Maaroufi and his team. 

Another sterile opposition, that which since colonial times has distinguished supposedly Western modernity from traditions confined to the reproduction of vernacular craft techniques, has also been shattered. The invention of her own alphabets goes hand in hand with a constant construction of forms, the know-how of which she shares with the craftsmen who accompany her. The aim is not to reproduce a few hackneyed techniques, but to give free rein to a shared imagination. The artist is no longer a demiurge locked away in her ivory tower, but she establishes a creative process that is always collaborative. The uniqueness of the pieces she creates is endowed with a strong poetic element. From the embroidery that gives life to unprecedented forms of constellation, to the circular stained-glass windows that let the shimmering effects of light shine through, to the ceramics that assemble graphic signs of rare inventiveness, the works are often linked to a form of lyrical abstraction that is entirely musical. Her current work is like an intimate, nostalgic score. Music is omnipresent through personal references to childhood. In hi s stained-glass windows, made of copper, brass, wood and Iraqi glass of Arabo-Moorish inspiration, reminiscent of the installation of two circular stained-glass windows, “Deux astres, au déséquilibre, se brûlent” ( Two stars, off balance, burn each other), presented in 2020 at the Palais de Tokyo as part of the exhibition curated by Abdellah Karroum, “Notre monde brûle” (Our world is burning), the lyrics of legendary songs slip in […]. A free verse is written using various red or green enamels emblematic of the regions of the High Atlas that she often surveys. 

Sara Ouahaddou, Izoul Zman Ighzif – Time is Still Long, Beyond Our Perception, 2024, Cedar wood, Iraqi glass, Moorish glass, transparent glass, brass and copper, Diam. 170 cm, Depth 7 cm, With the participation of artisans Mohamed Maaroufi and his team.

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