Mohamed El Hebeishy
Wednesday 26 September 2012
Last Update 28 September 2012 9:53 am
As the notorious heat of Arabia’s summer recedes, Dubai braces for a new season — a new arts’ season.
In recent years, Dubai has grown a strong reputation for being an arts’ hotspot in the Gulf region. Art galleries have peppered the city, from the old quarter of Bastakiya, to the sleek and posh Dubai International Financial District, and all the way to the industrial area of Al Quoz. Al Quoz doesn’t only host a multitude of warehouses, workshops and plants, but a number of art galleries as well. One such is Al Serkal Avenue; a warehouse complex turned an art gallery complex. It hosts some 20 art centers and galleries.
Just two weeks ago, Al Serkal Avenue threw a mega event announcing the start of the new arts’ season. The opening event attracted art lovers from all over Dubai and the rest of the country. It showcased the creativity of resident, national and international artists.
“Seismic Sanctuary” was the event’s biggest highlight. Hosted by Salsali Private Museum, the solo exhibition showcases the meticulous work of Pantea Rahmani as she finely draws the landscape of her hometown — Tehran. Pantea pays attention to the smallest piece of detail as she inks the city’s topography on two huge canvases each measuring about 1.7X5 meters. “I wanted to show the whole world what Tehran exactly is, rather than the Tehran they see in the news” the artist commented “You can’t see Tehran if you fix your gaze on one aspect, you have to have a holistic view to grasp what the city is, and that is why I went for a panoramic view”.
The admirable pieces of art are named Tehran 1 and Tehran 2, and each took more than a year to complete. “It is really hard to stay on one piece for a year. Many times I got that close to running out of fuel, but I had to crawl and get back to work”, Pantea commented. Pantea studied visual arts at the Art University of Tehran, and her work had been exhibited in several museums across the globe, including the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tehran and the Museu da Agua in Lisbon.
Another widely acclaimed exhibition is that of another Iranian artist — Majid Koorang Beheshti. His first solo exhibition outside his home country, Majid’s “Telling Spaces” uses compositing photography techniques to create pieces of art that borders the realms of imagination while adorning the beauty of the line. His politically reactionary work portraits, from the artist’s perspective, the struggle of the Iranian people. The highlight of Majid’s exhibit is the one piece portraying a chador-clad young woman flying against an urban structure, while in the far background we can see soldiers and barbed prison walls. Flying with stretched arms, the young woman has a deck of cards falling from her hands.
“Jhakaas! Mumbai — A Study of Beautiful Chaos” was one of the continuously crowded exhibitions during the opening event. In her exhibited work, British illustrator Hatty Pedder portraits an artistically quirky image of Mumbai, the sprawling metropolis with all its eccentricities, contradictions, and fascinations. Hatty uses sharp black lines depicting her characters on vibrant acrylic backgrounds. Scenes, like a typical old Indian taxi with a huge load strapped on its top and stopping in a terrific light next to a brand new Mercedes Benz, come in very vivid colours, typical of India. Hatty’s works come with a very distinct kaleidoscopic collage feel to it.
Stepping away from paintings and right into photography, Gulf Photo Plus hosts a peculiar photography exhibition that strongly warrants a visit. “A Window Inside” showcases the work of talented documentary photographer Lana Slezic. In her exhibit, the Croatian Canadian photographer focuses on the strength and beauty of ordinary Afghan women. To add an artistic touch, Lana shot her subjects through a glass medium and using an old box camera.
Al Serkal Avenue new season opening event was not limited to drawings, paintings, or even photography, but included musical performances as well.
The latest addition to the growing family of Al Serkal Avenue, The Fridge is a Dubai based music management company focusing on promoting local based artists and talents. On the opening event Dubai-based jazz artist Rachael Calladine and Iraqi-Canadian rapper The Narcicyst gave the cheering crowds a quite fulfilling dose of musical entertainment. “The reaction from the audience was very warm and rapturous. The Fridge is a very active space and it’s always fabulous to throw the doors open in this way and it was great that our doors were open to art lovers”, commented Shelly Frost, The Fridge’s founder.
Most of the exhibits inaugurating the new season at Al Serkal Avenue are going to be there for at least a month. If you happen to be Dubai during that time, make your to pay Al Serkal Avenue a visit; a long visit.
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