Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 November 2019

Art season in the UAE: 17 shows not to miss across the Emirates this November

As a new season of shows and events begins, we pick out a few highlights from Sharjah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi

This colourful tapestry is part of 'Luminescence', a survey exhibition of Najat Makki at the Cultural Foundation in Abu Dhabi. Reem Mohammed  / The National
This colourful tapestry is part of 'Luminescence', a survey exhibition of Najat Makki at the Cultural Foundation in Abu Dhabi. Reem Mohammed  / The National

Art lovers in the UAE, rejoice! The art season is picking up again, with a series of exhibition openings and the highly anticipated inaugural edition of the Sharjah Architecture Triennial kicking off next week. Abu Dhabi Art will return this month for its 11th edition, with new sections on Asian art and a line-up of interesting artists for its commissions programme.

Here's what to see across the Emirates for the rest of the year.

Dubai:

Is This Tomorrow?

London’s Whitechapel Gallery presents the Dubai iteration of one of their previous shows that features installation artworks by five artist pairings, including Rana Begum and Marina Tabassum. The two artists have created Phoenix Will Rise, a constructed environment meant to serve as a space for contemplation.

Other works in the show include a metal maze, created by 6a architects from the UK and Argentinian artist Amalia Pica. The structure resembles animal pens used in slaughterhouses, and by walking through it, visitors realise how these man-made inventions exemplify our disregard for animal rights.

Until Saturday November 23 at Concrete, Alserkal Avenue. alserkalavenue.ae

Nothing Looks the Same at Night

Film still from Kazim Rashid's 'Nothing Looks The Same at Night', on view at The Third Line. Courtesy The Third Line
Film still from Kazim Rashid's 'Nothing Looks The Same at Night', on view at The Third Line. Courtesy The Third Line

Kazim Rashid’s latest video installation ventures into the deepest parts of our psyche, where our secrets and unfiltered selves lie. As the title suggests, these sides of our characters are often explored after dark. The film’s non-linear narrative defies easy description, and Rashid conjures visions of forest fires and references to the film I Shot Andy Warhol, based on the story of Valerie Solanas. The fragmented nature of Rashid’s film and his use of esoteric visual language asks viewers to pay close attention.

From Monday, November 18 to Thursday, February 6, 2020 at The Third Line. thethirdline.com

Phantom Limb

Jameel Art Centre’s thematic exhibition for the season considers how national identity is tied to material culture, including heritage sites and artefacts. What are the consequences for collective memory when those objects are destroyed or taken? Featuring 13 artists and collectives – including Forensic Architecture, Akram Zaatari, Kader Attia, Rayyanne Tabet and Pio Abad – the works in the show explore a variety of mediums, including sculpture, installation, video, photography and 3D rendering.

Until Saturday, February 15, 2020; Jameel Arts Centre, Dubai. jameelartscentre.org

Between Floating Worlds

Using techniques of live drawing and animation, Syrian artist Kevork Mourad presents ink drawings that reflect on the struggles of migration, whether it is forced or voluntary, and the burden of remembrance for those moving to other lands. His process involves the transfer of very fine drawings from acetate to textile, which he proceeds to cut out and layer to create three-dimensional works that bear reference to Sumerian, Babylonian and Armenian designs.

Until Monday, January 6, 2020 at Tabari Artspace. tabariartspace.com

Composition for a Public Park

Spread across Jameel Arts Centre’s Jaddaf Waterfront Sculpture Park is an arrangement of speakers, each dedicated to a specific instrument, sound or voice. They are clustered into three sections that represent three themed movements developed by the Egyptian artist and composer Hassan Khan. His work compels visitors to traverse the space as they listen to each of the movement’s musings, which touch on philosophy, seduction and politics.

Until Monday, June 8, 2020 at Jameel Arts Centre. www.jameelartscentre.org

Tales of Thread

Alexander Calder, 'Star' from 1975. Courtesy Custot Gallery Dubai
Alexander Calder, 'Star' from 1975. Courtesy Custot Gallery Dubai

Textile art is the focus of Custot Gallery Dubai’s new show, with 25 tapestries and carpets created by modern and contemporary artists, including Pablo Picasso, Sonia Delaunay, Rene Perrot and Sheila Hicks. Known for his kinetic sculptures and celestial motifs, Alexander Calder also worked with textile, and one of his star tapestries is on view. There is also Etel Adnan’s painterly tapestry with playful forms and bursts of colour.

From Monday, November 18 to Thursday, March 5, 2020 at Custot Gallery. custotgallerydubai.ae

Mantra

Known for his black granite sculptures, Egyptian-Armenian artist Armen Agop also produces drawings and paintings, and these will be shown for the first time in this exhibition. The title refers to Agop’s relationship to his practice, seeing his works as tangible outcomes of a metaphysical endeavour.

From Monday, November 18 to Thursday, February 13, 2020 at Meem Gallery. meemgallery.com

Sharjah

Internal view of Sharjah Vegetable Market, Al Jubail, Sharjah, 1980. Sharjah Architecture Triennial
Internal view of Sharjah Vegetable Market, Al Jubail, Sharjah, 1980. Sharjah Architecture Triennial

Sharjah Architecture Triennial: Rights of Future Generations

The Sharjah Architecture Triennial begins with a programme of forums, screenings and performances across the emirate. Highlights include an Awakening Ceremony for the Ngurrara Canvas II, a large-scale aboriginal painting that was used as evidence in a land claim case between the Ngurrara and the Australian government. There will also be an audiovisual presentation on reincarnation by Lawrence Abu Hamdan and a sound performance in Mleiha Fort by musician Nicolas Jaar. Themed Rights of Future Generations, the three-month long event considers how the ongoing climate crisis has been shaped by intergenerational relationships, and what role architecture can play to address this.

Opening programme runs from Saturday, November 9 to Tuesday, November 12. The triennial continues until February 8, 2020. sharjaharchitecture.org

Sunset, Sunrise

A mirror mosaic by the late Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian. Courtesy The Third Line
A mirror mosaic by the late Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian. Courtesy The Third Line

A retrospective of the work of the great Iranian artist, Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, offers visitors deeper insights into her practice, with 70 works spanning over six decades on view. Monir, who passed away at the age of 97 in April this year, was best known for her mirror mosaics, though she also produced drawings, jewellery and collages. Some will be shown for the first time in the show.

Until Saturday, December 28 at Al Hamriyah Studios, Sharjah Art Foundation. sharjahart.org

Marwan Rechmaoui: Slanted Squares

Lebanese artist Marwan Rechmaoui explores history through construction sites and structures. His latest exhibition features three bodies of work that investigate infrastructure and objects of daily urban life. Using industrial materials such as concrete, rubber and glass, Rechmaoui creates his series Pillars, which is made up of totem-like structures that look like fragments of a building and act as metaphors for urban archaeology.

Until Sunday, February 2, 2020 at Sharjah Art Foundation. sharjahart.org

Music of Letters

A visitor at the Sharjah Calligraphy Museum's Music of Letters exhibition, featuring works of Bahman Panahi. Chris Whiteoak / The National
A visitor at the Sharjah Calligraphy Museum's Music of Letters exhibition, featuring works of Bahman Panahi. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Music and calligraphy blend gracefully in Bahman Panahi’s canvasses. Trained as a musician and a visual artist, Panahi has developed his own style where his sweeping strokes bring to mind a musicality, and his use of colour a sense of orchestral harmony. With 30 works on view, the exhibitions present a wide range of the Iranian artist’s approach to calligraphy, whether it is to deconstruct letters to forms, or to unify characters, shapes and shades in a cohesive visual image.

Until Saturday, March 7, 2020 at Sharjah Calligraphy Museum. sharjahmuseums.ae

Colour Bar: Colour, Space and Bits per Pixel

Curated by Emirati visual artist and video composer Hind bin Demaithan, this exhibition investigates the artist-audience relationship as mediated by social media, questioning how artwork is presented and perceived via virtual platforms. Expect surreal multimedia works by Ahmad Al Areef Al Dhaheri, Mansour Al Heera, Ahaad Al Amoudi and Fawaz Al Batati.

Until Saturday, November 30 at Maraya Art Centre. maraya.ae

Fashcultivate

Hessa Al Suwaidi's 'Um Rashid'. Courtesy 1971 - Design Space
Hessa Al Suwaidi's 'Um Rashid'. Courtesy 1971 - Design Space

The date palm is a traditional symbol of the Emirates, but it can also be a source of inspiration for designers, as seen in the commissioned pieces on view at 1971 – Design Space. Works range from a textile installation piece by Hessa Al Suwaidi to a voluminous dress with Emirati weaving patterns by Asma Al Mazrouie. As part of the exhibition, Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council commissioned a research project on the use of the date palm as a sustainable material.

Until Saturday, February 8, 2020 at 1971 - Design Space. 1971design.ae

Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi Art

The capital’s art fair is back for the 11th time, with 24 galleries participating in its modern and contemporary sections. This year, ADA is introducing New Horizons, a section focusing on Asian art, specifically from China and India. The Beyond Emerging Artists programme will feature Ayesha Hadhir, Rawdha Khalifa Al Ketbi and Sheikha Fahad Al Ketbi, while Oliver Beer and Leandro Elrich have been selected for the commissions programme. Curator Paolo Colombo heads up this year’s Gateway, which will explore how everyday objects influence artist narratives.

From Thursday, November 21 to Saturday, November 23 at Manarat Al Saadiyat and various locations. abudhabiart.ae

10,000 Years of Luxury

Antique necklace made from natural Gulf pearls with multi coloured enamel and white stones c. 1880, India H. 380mm; W. 500mm ZNM.2015.01813 Zayed National Museum Description: A key object from the collection of Zayed National Museum, this antique pearl necklace in the Indian Satlada style was gifted to the renowned Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Founding Father and first President of the United Arab Emirates. Known as ‘Kawkab Al Sharq’ — Star of the East, Umm Kulthum spent decades touring across the Arab world. Alongside her vocal talents, she was beloved for her charity work and her championing of Arab culture. Such a gift reflects the region’s long pearling history. The discovery of a natural pearl in a Neolithic house on Marawah Island, Abu Dhabi, provides strong evidence that pearls have been harvested and valued in the region for nearly 8,000 years. Treasured by the singer, the pearl necklace given to Umm Kulthum was handcrafted in India in the late 19th century. The Arabian Gulf was, at the time, the main supplier of pearls to the rest of the world mainly through India, meeting 80-90 per cent of global needs. The necklace comprises 1,888 natural pearls arranged into nine rows, the centre of which has a pattern of four juxtaposed pearls followed by a small enameled pendant. The pearls decrease in size from the centre of the necklace to the tips of each strand. Additional pearls hang loosely from each red and green enameled pendant. To accommodate the curvature of the necklace, the number of pendants on each strand decreases towards the neckline. The largest pendant, located in the centre of the lowest string, has five large oval-shaped pearls hanging loosely below the necklace.
An antique pearl necklace in the Indian Satlada style was gifted to the renowned Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum by Sheikh Zayed, the Founding Father.

A massive exhibition of over 350 objects, Louvre Abu Dhabi’s latest show takes a wide cross-cultural view of the history of luxury, from fashion, art and interior design. Highlights include the Abu Dhabi pearl, which dates back to 5800 to 5600BC and was found on Marawah Island, and opulent dresses from French fashion houses such as Chanel and Christian Dior. The exhibition coincides with Comite Colbert, a series of initiatives exploring French luxury held across Abu Dhabi.

Until Tuesday, February 18, 2020 at Louvre Abu Dhabi. louvreabudhabi.ae

Structures of Impermanence

Centring on the bah-rah or water fountain found in Syrian architecture, the exhibition looks how architecture carries social and cultural significance. In the case of the bah-rah, for example, the structure often becomes a place for social interaction, and in time, engenders rituals and traditions. A series of fountains are installed inside the gallery, removed from the context of their common use. In this new environment, the viewer’s awareness is fixed on the object itself, baring its design and material in a new light.

Until Sunday, 29 December at Warehouse421. warehouse421.ae

Luminescence

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. 04 SEPTEMBER 2019. Najat Makki’s show: Luminescence. The Emirati artist’s debut solo exhibition highlights her experimental approach, as well as geographical and historical influences. It will be on show from Wednesday, September 3 until Sunday, December 15, at the Cultural Foundation of Abu Dhabi. The ultural Foundation of Abu Dhabi has announced a new programme of exhibitions, workshops and art events, which will launch on Wednesday, September 4 at the capital’s oldest historical site, the recently restored Qasr Al Hosn. New spaces have opened in the foundation’s premises. This includes the Abu Dhabi Children’s Library and a 900-seat theatre. “Since its creation in 1981, the Foundation has served as a key place for artists to learn, collaborate and create,” says Reem Fadda, the Cultural Foundation’s Director. “We are thrilled to continue this legacy with a rich offering of unique and immersive arts spaces and a year-round programme of exhibitions, artist residencies and workshops.” (Photo: Reem Mohammed/The National) Reporter: Anna Zacharias + Alexandra Chaves Section: NA + AC
Najat Makki’s show: Luminescence. The Emirati artist’s debut solo exhibition highlights her experimental approach, as well as geographical and historical influences. Reem Mohammed / The National

In this survey exhibition of Najjat Makki’s work, themes of feminism and womanhood abound. The Emirati artist is a pioneer in the country’s art scene and has been practising for more than 40 years, experimenting with different styles and mediums. She is known for her elongated female figures, which became a prominent motif in her work from the 1990s. The show traces Makki’s practice through seven sections, and provides a long-overdue, in-depth look at her practice.

Until Sunday, December 15 at Cultural Foundation. culturalfoundation.ae

Updated: November 7, 2019 02:46 PM

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