Long, shiny hair can be very appealing in its place – yet hair becomes repulsive as soon as it is detached from the head. Perhaps it’s not all that surprising, then, that in an exhibition filled with severed tongues and torn out hearts, the most visceral and unsettling work is a wooden book stand sprouting a thick crop of straight, honey-colored hair. “Zulf” (Brunette) is one of a series of bizarre, humorous and consistently clever works on show at NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery, currently hosting international artists’ collective Slavs and Tatars’ latest solo show, “Mirrors for Princes: Both Sides of the Tongue.”
A woman walking briskly through the gallery’s snaking exhibition layout, paying scant attention to the work around her, stopped suddenly in her tracks at the sight of Saudi artist Ahmed Matar’s photograph “Let It Be Passed,” forcing the lady behind her to swerve wildly in order to avoid a collision. “Wow,” the first woman could be heard to exclaim. Then, “I love it. I love it!” A dramatic reaction to a photograph, maybe, but one that suggests “View from Inside: Contemporary Arab Video, Photography and Mixed Media Art” is managing to reach its viewers. The image, an enormous color shot of two young boys pressed up against a fence on a hill overlooking the Islamic holy city of Mecca – a sea of minarets lit up like candles in the night – was part of an exhibition originally dreamt up by FotoFest.
Read More: A Panoramic Shot of Arab Art
Under the patronage of Qatar Museums Chairperson HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad Al-Thani, the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) opened “Qajar Women: Images of Women in 19th-Century Iran” exhibition today [April 8th]. Running until 16 June 2016, this new temporary exhibition showcases a wide variety of artworks from the Qajar period, all of which feature Persian women as the main subject. This exhibition demonstrates the importance of women in the art of 19th-century Iran and how this continues to inspire contemporary artists.
An exhibition on prominent 18th Century South Indian Muslim ruler Tipu Sultan opened yesterday [September 29th] at the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) Special Exhibitions Gallery. “This exhibition aims to tell the story of Tipu Sultan, a famous South Indian ruler, statesman, patron of the arts, poet, diplomat, a key figure in the late 18th century India,” William Greenwood, MIA Curator for Central Islamic Lands explained during a press tour yesterday. Tipu Sultan’s formidable reputation and strong self-image makes him an extraordinary subject in an exhibition where art, objects and narrative combine to examine the past.
Geometric Aljamia: a cultural transliteration is an exhibition that explores the connections between Europe, the Mediterranean basin and the Middle East by addressing the fundamental geometry embedded in two-dimensional art. Aljamia is the adaptation of the Arabic script to transcribe texts in European languages. In the past, Aljamia manuscripts played a significant role in preserving Islam and the Arabic language in the West, especially in Andalusia. By understanding the visual arts as a transliteration of one form of thinking to another, this exhibition revisits the ongoing impact of Islamic art, science and philosophy in the modern world.
Read More: Geometric Aljamia Links Many Cultures
Ayyam Gallery’s latest show, Syria’s Apex Generation, puts the spotlight on a new school of Syrian painting that developed in Damascus, and continues to thrive despite the disintegration of the art scene in the city. The multiple-venue show, spread across Ayyam’s two spaces in Dubai and in Beirut features recent works by Nihad Al Turk, Abdul Karim Majdal Al Beik, Othman Mousa, Mohannad Orabi, and Kais Salman. It explores the myriad ways a new generation of artists is responding to the current conflict in Syria, marking a new phase in Syrian contemporary art. But it also looks at how these artists are carrying forward the legacy of the artists who shaped Syrian visual culture for over 60 years.
Read More: Creations Reflecting the Conflict in Syria
The calligraphic sculptures created by Bassam Al Selawi and Maysoon Masalha look deceptively simple. But when the lights in the gallery are dimmed and the spotlights switched on, a surprising fourth dimension is revealed. The shadow cast by each wall-mounted sculpture is a figure or words related to the feelings evoked, or the mental images conjured by the words on the sculpture itself. The latest show by the Jordanian couple, Don’t Trust Your Eyes includes shadow sculptures featuring verses from the Quran and poetic phrases, with the shadows sometimes illustrating the emotions embodied by the words, and sometimes telling quite another story.
Read More: A Hidden World in the Shadows
The ‘rose and the nightingale’ is a theme that has been used in Persian literature and visual imagery for centuries. The rose represents beauty, perfection and a sometimes self-absorbed and cruel beloved. And the nightingale symbolises the devoted lover yearning to become one with the beloved. The theme can thus be interpreted as a metaphor for both earthly and spiritual love. Curator Maneli Keykavoussi explores modern interpretations of this age-old theme in a group show titled The Rose and the Nightingale: A Persian Iconography by bringing together works by pioneers of Iranian modern art such as her mother, the late Farideh Lashai, and Farshid Mesghali and well-known Iranian artists such as Amin Roshan, Rozita Sharafjahan, Dariush Hosseini, Ladan Boroujerdi, Navid Azimi Sajadi, Masoumeh Bakhtiari, Farid Jafari Samarghandi, Gizella Varga Sinai, Rasool Soltani and Sara Rahanjam.
Read More: Sweet Essence of Iran
Arab artist Kamal Boullata was born in Occupied Jerusalem in 1942, but has lived in exile in America and Europe since he was 18. Despite his Western art education, he has kept in touch with his roots by doing extensive research on Islamic and Modern Arab art, and has written several essays and books on Islamic, Byzantine and Palestinian art. His latest body of work, Bilqis, named after the queen of Sheba, seamlessly combines Western and Islamic abstraction. The series, comprising five triptychs is inspired by the Quranic legend of the queen’s visit to the court of King Solomon, where she mistook the glass floor for a sheet of water and lifted up her skirt to avoid getting it wet. The paintings are essentially about recreating the transparency and spatial ambiguity in visual perception that the queen had experienced.
Read More: Symmetry Inspired by Architecture
It is obvious from the artworks in Ramin Shirdel’s first solo exhibition in Dubai, Whispers of Love, why the Iranian artist is also an award-winning architect. Shirdel’s three-dimensional wall-mounted works have been created from hundreds of painted pieces of wood of different shapes and sizes. These have been assembled together in layers that further combine to form Farsi-Arabic letters and words. The artworks, painted with bright automotive paints, look different from different angles. As you move around the pieces, the letters and words appear and disappear. And the layers seem to move in a rhythmic, wave-like motion, with the criss-crossing lines formed by the shadows adding to the movement and drama.
Read More: A Labour of Love
Black is an absence of colour or an amalgamation of all colours. Either way, it is not a colour in its own right. It is this scientific mystery that fascinated the artist Hamra Abbas, a topic on which she spent months, searching for a way to visually represent it. The result is the namesake piece of her latest exhibition currently showing at Lawrie Shabibi gallery in Dubai’s Alserkal Avenue, Kaaba Picture as a Misprint.