New art exhibition season across the UAE

James Clar - "Horizontal force" LED | Filters & wires | 120 x 220 cm | Edition of 3 + 1 ap | 2015

A new art season is upon us in the UAE and there's a wide range of art exhibitions opening across the UAE. A few have already opened, there's Galleries Night in Alserkal Avenue in Dubai on 14th September 2014 which will include a few new exhibition openings and more to open later in the month in Dubai and Sharjah. 

Below are my top picks of exhibitions to visit and artist talks to attend. There's a lot more happening, have a look at Art in the City for a complete list. 


Abu Dhabi  

Might (Writing and Stitching) by Jill Magi at NYU Abu Dhabi Art Centre
On till 20th September 2015 

Might (Writing and Stitching) art exhibition by Jill Magi, senior writing lecturer, gathers over five years of Jill Magi’s works on paper, hand-embroideries, drawings, books, and paintings that explore the relationship between text and textile, the book and the body, the power of the word and of silence.


Searching for Optical Wonder at XVA Gallery by Colleen Quigley
12th September - 21st October 2015 

In this body of work Quigley experiments with techniques using wax, reflective materials, ceramic, collage and laser cut acrylic, to create a visually stimulating experience for the viewer. Quigley’s interest lies in sensorial effect and perception of what color is in isolation, in changing light, in surface and texture, and how color appears to us in a context with another color within a given shape. 
Using Islamic design as a framework in which to structure and cultivate her exploration (with compositions focusing on repetition, continuous variation and juxtaposition of color andpattern), Quigley successfully encourages the viewer to contemplate the materiality of art (the handmade and the machine made), the sensory relationship between the viewer and the art object, and the physical experience in experiencing art.

The Milky Way of the Mice by Ivana Flores at The Mine
14th September - 10th October 2015  

How do memory and reality coalesce when it comes to painting and the portraiture of subjects? Through a convoluted imaginary, effervescent with symbolism, Ivana Flores inhabits in her work different fields of simultaneous experience: reality, dream, everyday life and imagination merge at a turning point of boundless consciousness of self-image and world.
Under a singular theme –the inner reality of things, whimsical forms travel back and forth between solid representation and more primary aspects of the human experience, liberating the sensorial and the visible from opaque abstractions and locating vulnerability.

Immortals by Adel Abidin at Lawrie Shabibi
14th September - 10th November 2015 

Adel Abidin. Props (Detail). 2015

Immortals takes a playful look at the manufactured nature of Arab media and raises important questions of the role that it has played in shifting geographic boundaries and allegiances. Working in a new medium, Abidin transfers to painting his graphic imagery and brand of ironic humour for which his video art is recognized.

Abidin takes his cue from the visual content and images of Arab news channels. The role of these news stations has become increasingly significant in the spread and containment of ideologies, revolutions and counter-revolutions. These often share similar graphics, blinking text, and staged TV press conferences, all of which Abidin sees as formulaic.

On 15th September 2015 at 10.30am, Adel Abidin will be in conversation with Dr. Alexandra Macgilp (Curator at Maraya Art Centre). 

After the Deluge by Elias Zayat at Green Art Gallery
14th September - 4th November 2015  

The City and the Blue Angel, 2015, Tempura on board, 74 x 105 cm

Elias Zayat is one of the most significant Syrian artists of the 20th century, and a key founder of the country’s contemporary art movement. 
In After The Deluge, Zayat returns to the ancient city of Palmyra, remembered for being one of the few places in the region that managed to exist alongside the Romans without becoming Romanised. Fittingly, it is also known as Tadmor, or ‘the town that resisted.’ In this, the city parallels Zayat who, despite emerging at the height of Pan-Arabist fervour that culminated in the Naksa of 1967, managed to resist this sweeping aesthetic hegemony to develop his own inimitable visual language. 

On 16th September at 7.00pm, Elias Zayat will be in conversation with art historian Salwa Mikdadi, who is currently working on Zayat's forthcoming monograph. 

HER by Matilde Gattoni at Gulf Photo Plus
14th September - 31st October 2015  - exhibition 14 Sep - talk 16 Sep  


© Matilde Gattoni

Throughout her career spanning 15 years, 35 countries and 4 continents, photographer Matilde Gattoni has had the unique opportunity to encounter thousands of women from all corners of the world, from explorers in Dubai to war refugees in Kenya, Eritrea and Lebanon, from cluster bomb victims in Laos to tsunami survivors in Indonesia, from victims of domestic violence to land grabbing evictees.

As disparate as their stories might seem, all of the women Matilde has portrayed share an innate capacity of resilience and courage, no matter what difficulties they had to face. Although shunned and marginalized in many countries, they are often the hidden backbone of families and communities.

This exhibition is a tribute to their bravery and capacity to deal with insurmountable challenges, be they war, natural calamity, or the prejudices that exist within their own society.  

On 16th September at 7.00pm, there will be an artist talk with Matilde Gattoni.  

Register here to attend

Double Rainbow all the way by James Clar at Carbon 12
17th September - 7th November 2015  

James Clar - "Lunar Eclipse" LED lights & 3D printed parts 230 cm diameter | Edition of 3 + 1 ap | 2015

James Clar has created works that draw upon the increasingly blurred boundaries between the timeless digital world and the physical present one. Using both humor and a sense of wonder, the works in Double Rainbow all the way inspires a deeper questioning of technology’s influence on the nature of consciousness and our perceived shared reality.

The exhibition is named after a viral video from 2010 made by a man recording a double rainbow that appears in the early hours of the morning. The video struck a chord online for its raw emotion and seeming absurdity, however it reflected a much deeper observation on the prevailing sense of eroded reality that has been brought about by social media, the internet, and technology. It describes our fascination and fear of technology, how it has altered our view of the physical world, and our desire to make sense of it all.

When all seemingly stands still at Grey Noise
27th September - 7th November 2015

Now the shadows I measure by Michael John Whelan

"When all seemingly stands still" gathers works that challenge the characteristics of stillness and movement that are inherent to the filmic language. In each selected work, the strong or slight presence of movement and it’s absence or its recording of a non-event, is provoked by a set of ‘actions’ that are exterior to the camera movement.
Motion, in its pace and nature is expanding on the poetic of the ordinary, the spectacle of nothingness and the restlessness of our times. This exhibition about movement becomes a lieu of waiting for something to happen; with all that this notion carries in the realm of desire and perception of time and existence.  



Cobra - 1000 Days of Free Art at Sharjah Art Museum
On till 20th November 2015 

This exhibition features works from the collection of the Cobra Museum of Modern Art in the Netherlands and includes paintings, photographs, ceramics, textiles, jazz music and documentary materials from the period between 1947 and the early 1960s.

The story of Cobra is told through a chronological timeline, where the visitor is introduced to the movement and the social and historical developments of the period 1930-1960 in Europe. Historical images in black and white documentaries show the post World War II environment in which the Cobra movement was founded.
There are spoken word portraits by Cobra artists, who reflect on the significance of the movement. The exhibition presents a selection of masterpieces showing the fantasy animals, mythical creatures, vital compositions and non-western influences in the art.

A Burgeoning Collection at Maraya Arts Centre
16th September - 3rd October 2015 

This exhibition will present selected works of contemporary art and design from the Maraya Art Centre collection, including new acquisitions. It will include works by 30 artists and designers who are Emirati, UAE-based or from the wider Gulf area. It will include works of art and design from Maraya's growing collection in a variety of media, from photography to sculpture.
The show celebrates the work of the local artists supported by Maraya, often when in the early stages of their careers and forms a foundation from which the collection can develop. Ultimately Maraya will loan works from its collection to other institutions with the goal of promoting the evolving art scene in the region.

(I'm happy to announce some of my work be shown at this exhibition.)

Light Show at Sharjah Art Foundation Art Spaces
19th September - 5th December 2015

David Batchelor, Magic Hour, 2004/2007. Installation view, Light Show Hayward Gallery, 2013. © David Batchelor 2015. Photo by Marcus J Leith.

Light Show was first exhibited at the Hayward Gallery in London in 2013. 

Light Show explores the experiential and phenomenal aspects of light by bringing together sculptures and installations that use light to sculpt and shape space in different ways. The exhibition showcases artworks created from the 1960s to the present day, including immersive environments, free-standing light sculptures and projections.

From atmospheric installations to intangible sculptures that you can move around - and even through - visitors can experience light in all of its spatial and sensory forms. Individual artworks explore different aspects of light such as colour, duration, intensity and projection, as well as perceptual phenomena. They also use light to address architecture, science and film, and do so using a variety of lighting technologies.

The exhibition will include work by David Batchelor, Jim Campell, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Bill Culbert, Olafur Eliasson, Dan Flavin, Ceal Floyer, Nancy Holt, Jenny Holzer, Ann Veronica Janssens, Brigitte Kowanz, Anthony McCall, François Morellet, Iván Navarro, Katie Paterson, Conrad Shawcross, James Turrell, Leo Villareal and Cerith Wyn Evans.

The opening on 19th September will include a panel talk with the curator and some of the artists at 5pm and after the opening, there will be a film screening at 8.30pm of The Salt of the Earth directed by Wim Wenders & Juliano Ribeiro Salgado.