This March Lawrie Shabibi presents a first solo exhibition of their new kid on the block, Zak Ové, who’s based between London and Trinidad. The gallery had success showcasing his work at the art fair 1:54 at Somerset House, London, last October and subsequently started to represent him in the Middle East.

Ové does work with film, photography and painting, always in unpredictable ways. This exhibition will focus on his more familiar doily paintings and mixed media sculptural works, injecting intense colour and pattern into the gallery space. His practice is concerned with reinterpreting lost cultures and mythologies, both from African history and the narrative of the African diaspora from which he originates, to the Caribbean and further afield to Europe.

A series of circular crochet doilies almost two meters in diameter seek to represent the earth, with its many microcosms of different communities and characteristics. They appear like mind maps of the world, demographic studies manifesting themselves as pure psychedelic pattern.

The symbolism and motifs of the Trinidadian carnival are prevalent in his recent mixed-media large-scale works, using found objects such as masks, animal skulls, flying paraphernalia such as goggles and even parts of an airplane to create fantastical, otherworldly creatures of varying dimensions. A recent piece, Starchild 1, is made from an abandoned rocket ship from a vintage fairground ride. Standing upright, it houses a figure bathed in light, which in its red clothing with blue buttons appears like a soldier or rocketman. Its face, with wide blue eyes, long nose and big mouth, is taken from a primitive sculpture. The artist has intentionally left visible elements of rust and worn parts of the fibreglass sculpture.

The ways in which Ové comments on his heritage brings to Dubai a fresh geographical and anthropological area of reference. His work is equally challenging and mesmerising.

Featured image: Zak Ove, Earth, 2017, Crochet doilies, Diameter 190 cm, Courtesy Lawrie Shabibi and the artist.

A version of this article appeared in print in Selections, Curriculum Vitae #44, page 32.