x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Art roundup: AiR Dubai seeks artists in residence

Plus, in the show Her Viewpoint: Art by Women, Inspired by Men, 13 local and international artists explore everything from entrapment in relationships to the pressure to be traditionally 'masculine'.

Call for submissions

Residencies can be excellent opportunities for artists to hunker down for a solid period of time in the studio and hone a certain aspect of their practice. AiR Dubai (Artists in Residence) is currently on the hunt for three Emirati artists and three internationally based artists to take part in a three-month residency in the city's historic Bastakiya district.

Following the success of this year's matchup - with artists from Turkey, Algeria and Egypt working alongside and creatively colliding with local talent - the programme returns from January 7 until March 31.

The initiative is a collaboration between Art Dubai, Tashkeel (giving all artists full use of this studio hub's facilities), the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority and the London-based Delfina Foundation.

For more information, visit www.artdubai.ae. The deadline for submissions is September 16.

Man up

Subtitling an exhibition Artworks About Men from a Female Perspective could lay the field open to some rather caustic and divisive responses. Thankfully, the second edition of the Dubai Ladies Club's annual exhibition of female artists, Womart, does exactly that.

In the show, titled Her Viewpoint: Art by Women, Inspired by Men, 13 local and international artists have been selected from the open call for participants. The line-up of work runs the gamut - from sardonic takes on the cyclical entrapment woven into many a relationship through to portraits of men that explore their hidden insecurities about received notions of masculinity.

But it's not all about tussle. Alejandra García Wittig has sketched a man in repose, arms folded behind his head, whose body is a harmonious mass of geometric lines and fibrous weave. She says that the image expresses "a stable peace and confidence that I want to represent about masculinity".

Similarly, the Emirati artist Khawla Al Marri has decided to emphasise the maternal feelings that men inspire in her, with a slightly unsettling image of a man in national dress curled up, foetal-style, in the belly of a woman.

One of the standout collections is work by Helen Gorrill that, while relatively tame compared with some of the artist's more unabashed work, is still a remarkably daring series. Large paintings show women in gratuitous poses, clad in the garb of trashy, commercialised titillation. Yet their faces are smeared, their bodies tarnished and the scale of the pieces draws parallels with iconography. Gorrill is remarkably combative in her art: "Much of my work questions the submissiveness of women advocated by religion, particularly in my investigation of Christianity and the representation of the Virgin," she wrote in a statement.

Perryhan El Ashmawi's triptych of wooden panels, With or Without You, depicts the fatalism of rejection - the realisation that the object of one's affection does not reciprocate. Through two three-way relationships, El Ashmawi shows that both men and women can be ruled by the pain of refusal and the abyss of loneliness that it inspires.

Doll is a watercolour painting by Kelly Jayne, in which colour is drenched into the softened, ethereal form of a face. The work contains nods to that dissipated style of painting found in works by Marlene Dumas.

A multitude of voices and diversity of mediums, Womart is one of the Dubai Ladies Club's ever-growing number of art initiatives and a welcome source of ideas.

The show runs until August 30 at Dubai Ladies Club (The Art Centre space), Jumeirah Beach Road, Jumeirah 2, opposite Emirates Hospital. The gallery is open from 9am to 9pm, Saturday to Thursday. Both men and women are welcome to visit.

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