x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Art arrests the eye in the UAE

Christopher Lord rounds up the week's pick of art shows that you should take a look at.

Udo Rutschmann works in wood, cutting the undulating patterns that falling leaves and displaced grains of sand make in the air as they move. Courtesy the artist / Mojo Gallery
Udo Rutschmann works in wood, cutting the undulating patterns that falling leaves and displaced grains of sand make in the air as they move. Courtesy the artist / Mojo Gallery

Pungent art pieces in Abu Dhabi, long-lost tapestries and a brand new space in DIFC - don't be fooled by the onset of summer: the art season isn't over yet. Here's our round-up of where to put your eyes this week.

Referencing History

Bringing a decent curator on board proved smart thinking for Green Art Gallery last time round, and Referencing History looks to carry on in that vein. The curator Jane Neal has brought together a hefty 11 artists from all corners of the region and Eastern Europe. We're keen to see what the Turkish artist Hale Tanger has come up with, as her 2011 solo show at GAG (a series of projections on fabric showing music-making, water-bound balloons) was particularly strong.

According to Neal, all of the works explore in some way the process through which history is made. Several of the artists grew up in the former Soviet Union and they are looking at who exactly writes these "official" histories. Keep an eye out for works by the Romanian Marius Bercea - his Impressionistic landscapes, punctured by angular temples of modernity, are a highlight of the show.

- Green Art Gallery, Alserkal Avenue, until May 15


Udo Rutschmann has cut the wandering flight-path of falling leaves into pieces of wood. "It came from a childhood memory of walking through forests in autumn," says the German artist. "But this movement can be found in the deserts of Liwa as well, in the way that sand travels over the dunes." Don't be fooled: these simple forms may appear whimsical but have been plotted via extensive mathematical renderings of the trajectory that matter takes as it's blown in the wind and dissolved in water.

The process is explored in an excellent short film by the curator Marco Sosa, included in the show. Trained as an architect, Rutschmann says that the works are a mingling of scientific study and plain ol' fascination with nature's artistry. "They trace a landscape of valleys and mountains," he says. "You can even see a sort of lifeline within them."

- Mojo Gallery, Alserkal Avenue, until June 7

Mathieu Matégot

"No one knew where this tapestry was for 58 years," says Guillaume Cuiry, the director of the recently opened La Galerie Nationale and the proud exhibitor of a long-unseen piece by Mathieu Matégot. "I found it six months ago, just in somebody's apartment - the owner said it had been in the family since it was first made. This piece hasn't been seen in public since 1954 and now it's here in the Middle East."

Matégot is arguably best known for his series of steel and iron furniture made in the aftermath of the Second World War. But tapestry remained his passion, and a rare example of this is currently exhibited alongside the gallery's collection of pieces of 20th-century design.

"He wanted to be in the same line as his friend, the artist Piet Mondrian," Cuiry continues. "Matégot wasn't a painter, but he had imagination. He would wake up and draw shapes seen in his dreams the previous night."

- La Galerie Nationale, Alserkal Avenue, ongoing

Respect to Time

A rash of new galleries opened in March to tag on to the Art Dubai buzz. Rira Art Gallery might have missed that bandwagon, but its founder, Parisa Davarkia, is confident this new space will shake up the roster of Iranian artists that we've all come to know so well.

"I'm showing everyone from the masters to young, unknown artists," she says. "That's why the launch exhibition is called Respect to Time."

Those who fall into her masters camp are certainly familiar names - Fereydoun Ave, Aydin Aghdashloo, the late Bahman Jalali (the photographer who famously captured the 1979 Iranian Revolution) and others. But her fresher faces are a remarkably varied bunch. The young sculptor Safa Hosseini, who creates emaciated figures wilting under spatial pressure, is one of the few to have really caught our eye.

Rira will branch out into young, Arab artists once this first Iranian-only show is completed.

- Rira Art Gallery, Gate Village, May 16 to June 21

Exploring Spaces

Abu Dhabi's Salwa Zeidan Gallery is moving. Not too far, of course, but in the meantime it's holding a number of shows in the temporary enclave of the Rocco Forte Hotel near Airport Road.

Taking the space through May and June are works by the Iraqi-Dutch artist Nedim Kufi, who cobbles together soap, henna and mud to create multi-sensory pieces on canvas.

Despite their minimalism - usually with just a single word, such as "spirit", written on each surface in Arabic - Kufi's pieces create a stark distinction between the emptiness of the works and their pungent scent.

Focusing on material, Kufi asks his audience to breathe rather than see his artworks, and touching them isn't discouraged. This is some of the artist's better work, and well worth spending a bit of time with.

- Salwa Zeidan Gallery, Rocco Forte Hotel, until June 30




1. Green Art Gallery

Unit 28, Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz, Dubai, 04 346 9305, info@gagallery.com, www.gagallery.com, Saturday-Thursday 11am-7pm

2. La Galerie Nationale

Unit 27, Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz, Dubai, 04 380 4652, info@galerie-nationale.com, www.galerie-nationale.com, Saturday-Thursday 10am-7pm, Friday by appointment only

3. Mojo Gallery

Unit 33, Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz, Dubai, 04 347 7388, gallery@mojo-me.com, www.themojogallery.com, Sunday-Thursday 10am-7pm, Saturday 11.30am-6pm

4. RIRA Art Gallery

Building 3 (lower level), Gate Village, DIFC, Dubai, 04 369 9339, www.riragallery.com, Saturday-Thursday 10am-7pm

5. Salwa Zeidan Gallery

Rocco Forte Hotel, Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum Street, Abu Dhabi, 02 666 9656, info@salwazeidangallery.com, www.salwazeidangallery.com, daily 24 hours