New season of exhibitions in Dubai

Rula Halawani - Untitled 1, For My Father series, 2015, Archival print, 100 x 150 cm, Edition of 5

A number of new exhibitions opened recently across Dubai. I've not had a chance to visit many of them yet, but here are the ones that caught my attention based on the few I visited or what I read about them (some of the exhibitions listed below opened in December).

Will report back if I have any favourites. 


Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian - Infinite Geometry

The Third Line, until 30th January 2016

Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian's Infinite Geometry reflects upon the different facets and materials of her geometric practice and will feature a range of drawings, carpets, and mirror works, showing the depth of her conceptual consideration throughout her career and medium. 


While many of the drawings and mirror works are new and only produced in the last few years, the presentation also includes drawings and carpets that were made in the early 1990s, all of which have never been shown before.


Sermin Kardestuncer

XVA, until 3rd February 2016


Sermin Kardestuncer - #09, 2015, Ink on rice paper & thread, 32x32" | #08, 2014, Thread on silk paper in fabric, 20x21"

Sermin Kardestuncer’s work is organic in nature and displays loyalty to proportion and control. She is sensitive to the material she uses, and can transform the most common into the most unique. The exhibition will include sculpture, work on rice and silk paper, and fabric. The intricate and repeated patterns throughout the body of work bring a sense of wholeness and an insight on the inner workings of Kardestuncer’s thought process. The hand-stitched works are methodical and sensitive. The slow process of making the works allows the viewer to identify with Kardestuncer’s faith in possibility and her respect for tradition.


Cy Twombly And The Line Calligraphic

Total Arts at the Courtyard, until 15th February 2016

Installation view of "Cy Twombly and the Calligraphic Line."

When the late great American artist Cy Twombly first heard that the word for ‘calligraphy’ and ‘line’ in Farsi is one and the same, he was tickled pink, exclaiming ‘That’s what I do!” It is in this spirit that Iranian artist Fereydoun Ave – who worked and travelled with Twombly for three decades, remaining close friends until Twombly’s passing in 2011 – has curated Cy Twombly And The Line Calligraphic.


Twombly, a contemporary of Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, became known for his use of calligraphy-like forms and a graffiti style of painting; the lines of his delicate and ab-stract gestures often intersecting with the dripping lines of the paint itself as it made its way down the canvas. Bringing together works from his private collection, Ave has carefully selected pieces by regional artists whose practices resonate with Twombly in this spirit.


Afra Bin Dhaher - Hymns to a Sleeper

Tashkeel, 21st January - 3rd March 2016 


Bin Dhaher presents a series of photographs which depict unexceptional household items in exceptional settings. From chairs, carpets, found objects, and even a parrot, Bin Dhaher takes the simplicity of domestic living and envelopes it in an enigma of intrigue and romance.


First Solo: Saif Mhaisen

Tashkeel - House 10 in Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, 25th January - 21st February 2016

The exhibition sheds light on Saif Mhaisen’s distinct and systematic thought process. While his oil paintings reflect a resilient personal presence and vivid tactile involvement, his photographs show regard for context, preluding his paintings. The paintings explore the relationship between the skilled presence of an artist, expressed in the strokes of the palette knife, and representational subject matter that stems from the photography-referenced process, bridging mark-making and realistic depiction.


Tammam Azzam - The Road

Ayyam Gallery (Alserkal Avenue), until 3rd March 2016

Untitled, Storeys series, 2015, Acrylic on canvas, 250 x 200 cm

Tammam Azzam's The Road centers around Azzam’s first series of paintings executed since leaving Damascus over four years ago. Working on a large scale, the artist’s dense, painterly canvases place the viewer at the beginning of a still and empty road, a road that has no set direction or destination, a road with endless trajectories and countless unseen obstacles along the way.

Made up of cropped compositions, the series Storeys depicts the physical wreckage of war for as far as the eye can see. The banality of everyday life is entirely absent from the deserted settings contributing to the heavy atmosphere of loneliness and retreat. The viewer can only speculate how or even if life goes on behind the ravaged walls of multi-storey buildings. Two ambitious, site-specific installations add an immersive, three-dimensional element to the series.


Rula Halawani - For My Father

Ayyam Gallery (Alserkal Avenue), until 3rd March 2016

Untitled 5, For My Father series, 2015, Archival print, 100 x 150 cm, Edition of 5

Rula Halawani’s latest body of work details the Israeli occupation of Palestine from the vantage point of fading recollection. Creating a photographic record in remembrance of her late father, Halawani revisits several sites throughout historic Palestine, specifically the scenery that shaped her childhood memories. In the ghostly images of the series, the rolling hills, seashore, and traditional neighbourhoods of the artist’s youth are distorted through the lens of her camera as she struggles to identify what was once familiar.

Invading industry now defines the horizon. Abandoned homes are shown in a gradual process of deterioration, overgrown with weeds that sprout from crumbling facades. Once popular beaches now host solitary figures whose silhouettes are fogged at the edges as though slowly disappearing with the diminishing sand and sea.


Larissa Sansour - In the Future They Ate From The Finest Porcelain

Lawrie Shabibi, until 3rd March 2016

In the Future They Ate From The Finest Porcelain Larissa Sansour's includes screenings of her most recent film - of the same name - together with an installation and three large-scale photographic works.

The film is the artist's longest to date, and the first in which she makes no appearance other than as the narrator's voice. It is presented in colloquial Arabic as a dialogue voice-over.  A female protagonist who describes herself as a "narrative terrorist" is questioned by her interlocutor, whose identity remains unknown and is open to speculation - is she a journalist, a psychiatrist or an interrogator?

The film is a combination of sci-fi and archival imagery set against a deeply mesmerizing musical score and ambiguous time and place. At times it projects itself into the past and at others propels itself into the future with a view to creating a manufactured history.


White Cube... Literally

Gallery IVDE, until 3rd March 2016

Annabel Daou - Unloaded 2015 - Plaster and ink on repair tape - 11 dices of 2.5 x 2.5 x 2.5 cm each

The exhibition takes the white cube form as a playful terrain to challenge the 'reduction of artworks to their formal aspects' when it comes to a display inside the white cube. This series of white cubes ranges from conceptual, post-conceptual, minimal and post-minimal works to contemporary practices, and includes newly-commissioned works and iconic contributions from the mid-20th century. A documentation space inside the gallery is dedicated to the discursive material around the notion of the white cube.


but even if I cannot see the sun

Grey Noise, until 5th March 2016

Charbel-joseph H. Boutros - No Light In White Light / Night - Cartography, spray and carbon on paper, 50 x 70 cm

Adapt the eyes to the darkness

A black color everywhere

Something close to the moon

Days collapse through the fog

Presence of little or no reflections

A very dark color in space

Now, complete absorption of light


An uncertain future appears

Owing to the absence of light

A doubt of invisibility persists

Black, the opposite of white

White as the black of the night

The present is a permanent nightfall

A feeling that never disappears

Read the rest here.


If you'd like to see more exhibitions, I suggest you visit which includes a comprehensive listing of exhibitions across the UAE.