“It is material that humans have the most connection with. We are constantly in touch, through our clothes, furniture, beds and so on.” Zahra Imani is one of the artists featured in Domestic Affairs, opening tonight in Dubai’s Gallery Isabelle Van Den Eynde. Works by fellow Iranians Nargess Hashemi and Sara Rahmanian, Emirati Khalid Al Banna, and Aisha Khalid from Pakistan are also on show in what could be collectively described as textile or fibre art.
Imani’s large-scale patchwork In the Gallery, 2015, jumps cleverly between eras, with the pictures within contrasting situations past and present. Something is awry, leaving a variety of interesting narratives open. “Generally speaking my inspiration is everyday life and people, but I cut, and put them, in different contexts. My works are about being in places that you’re not supposed to be in. A kid doing nasty things in a museum, two brides in a room, male musicians playing for a female dancer – everything about it is odd for Iran.” Previously an oil painter, she says “something that is very different from my previous exercise with oils is that I have to go to a bazaar and search through piles and piles of fabrics to find the right tone, quality and texture, which can be easily done with a change of a brush stroke. But through this search, and by watching people choosing textiles, sometimes a vision appears and changes the whole work for me.”
Khalid Al Banna also enjoys the process of sourcing his materials. “I used to visit old souks in Sharjah and Dubai, which have an eclectic cultural mix from the Arab world to India, Iran and Pakistan. This enriched my visual sense.” He creates large discs of swirling materials for this show. Wedding 02, 2016, is a myriad of material, beads and glitter – a particularly flamboyant spin cycle. But these vibrant and clashing fabrics are a dying a part of Emirati life that the artist wishes to immortalise. “In my works I highlight the local culture in its simplest form – the vibrant, playful and colourful clothes that were worn by Emirati women back in the day, and which are slowly disappearing from contemporary society and culture.”
More considerations on the commonplace are on show at Domestic Affairs in Gallery Isabelle Van Den Eynden, Alserkal Avenue, Dubai until September 8th.