The Culturist Recommends - Exhibitions in April 2016

Manal Al Dowayan - Poolside II | Canvas, copper, string| 100 x 71 cm | 2015

Manal Al Dowayan - Poolside II | Canvas, copper, string| 100 x 71 cm | 2015


There are some good exhibitions currently running in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah. My absolute favourite is Manal Al Dowayan's "And I, Will I Forget?" at Cuadro Gallery. It's my favourite exhibition of the year so far. An exhibition based on found photos, I found Al Dowayan's narrative quite moving and I strongly recommend you don't miss this.

I'm really looking forward to Here's What They Think of Me by Sara Alahbabi, a senior capstone exhibition at NYU Abu Dhabi.

Here's my list of top 10 exhibitions in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah that you shouldn't miss this month. Click on the title of each exhibition if you'd like to read more.

And I, Will I Forget? by Manal Al Dowayan
Gallery: Cuadro Gallery, Dubai
Dates: Until 14th April 2016

Manal Al Dowayan - The Girls (5 pieces) | Canvas, copper, string | 24 79, 22 x 96, 16 x 61, 20 x 73, 22 x 74 cm | 2015

Manal Al Dowayan - The Girls (5 pieces) | Canvas, copper, string | 24 79, 22 x 96, 16 x 61, 20 x 73, 22 x 74 cm | 2015


Artist statement:

I have a fear of forgetting; I have a fear of being forgotten. The faces, the places, and the emotions that belong to them.

I save images, and preserve objects, I fill pages with notes and detailed descriptions. To obscure, to delete, to censor, to erase, and to forget a war is waged on memory. What remains when this war is lost? Images with no stories, dusty objects, misunderstood thoughts. The images will eventually fade, the objects will be lost, and the pages never understood. I have a fear of forgetting. I have a fear of being forgotten. And I, will I forget?


Here's What They Think of Me by Sara Alahbabi
Gallery: NYUAD Art Gallery - Project Space (Abu Dhabi)
Dates:  10th – 16th April 2016

Sara Alahbabi - He Owns So Much Oil, 2016 | 90cm x 60 cm

Sara Alahbabi - He Owns So Much Oil, 2016 | 90cm x 60 cm


This art project encompasses a series of staged photography which acts as a tool to challenge these stereotypes; the images are exaggerated so that it is obvious to the spectator that what is depicted in these photographs is unrealistic.

What I find troublesome is that certain generalizations or misconceptions could potentially feed into the identity of what, as an Emirati, the Emirates means as a whole. Therefore, having done this project will allow me to take that first step into solving misconceptions; to start a conversation.


What is it? - Curated by Sumesh Sharma
Gallery: 1x1 Gallery, Dubai
Dates: Until 30th April 2016

Portraiture becomes a trajectory of inquiry into the layers that constitute aesthetics, conceptual thought and the politics of artistic practice. 'What is it?' was Mathew Brady's travelling photographic studio that introduced the magic of the photo to rural American audiences, and is a question still asked in the realm of an art fair.

Portraiture has been a constant in the vocabulary of the visual arts in subcontinent dating back to the earliest know Jain Miniatures. Western Classical academic practice introduced portraiture in colonial era art schools that dealt with the subjects anatomy and perspective but soon the practice was incorporated into forming diverse narratives that are encountered in the exhibition.


The Lightness of Mass by Seher Shah
Gallery: Green Art Gallery, Dubai
Dates: Until 9th May 2016

Seher Shah - Unit Object (house), 2014 | Etching with aquatint on Arches paper | 58.42 x 66.04 cm.| Ed 5 of 20

Throughout her practice, Seher Shah has consistently re-shaped representation. Working with both drawing and sculpture, she has revisited the mainstays of architectural representational methods—plan, elevation, section—to inject unsettling slippages into their rigorous formalism. If, in the past, her practice has knowingly toyed with the frontier between the resolutely rational and the vaguely visceral, this new body of work fully embraces that visceral slant.

The Book (Re-Imagined) - Curated by Mohamed Abou El Naga
Gallery: The Mojo Gallery
Dates: Until 14th May 2016

The Book [Re-Imagined] features work of more than 30 artists and focuses on the highly distinctive and visually intriguing ‘artist’s book’.


An artist’s book isn’t published, it is handmade. It is not repeated, it is singular. It is like a canvas, but folded, revealing an intimate world, page after page.


Through an amalgamation of graphic-textual-chromatic-spatial expression, each artist’s book represents an individual’s deeply personal laboratory of inter-disciplinary art. While the collective combination of these unique artworks forms a fascinating aesthetic and intellectual dialogue between language, culture and artistic storytelling.


But Still Tomorrow Builds into My Face - Curated by Nat Muller
Gallery: Lawrie Shabibi
Dates: Until 19th May 2016

Daniele Genadry - Afterglow (15.33), 2013 | Screenprint on mylar | Framed: 28 x 37 cm

The exhibition takes on a timely topic: the disappearance and loss of cultural and other types of heritage. The works explore the relationship between collecting, power, history, conflict and identity. By snatching away subjects from the jaws of time and permanent loss, and by fixing them in memory, the works become poetic and political acts of preservation.


ICONS by Cortis and Sonderegger
Gallery: East Wing (Dubai)
Dates: 14th April - 26th May 2016

Cortis and Sonderegger - From the Icons series - Making of Concorde by Toshihko Sato | 2000 - 2013

In 2012, Swiss based artists Jojakim Cortis and Adrian Sonderegger presented themselves with a challenge; to recreate some of the world’s most iconic images in their studio. Trawling through books filled with history’s most memorable photographs, the duo used optical tricks to reproduce what seemed impossible to duplicate – a series of iconic moments that changed perspectives, often resulting in creative or political rebellion.

Cortis and Sonderegger will give a talk at on Saturday, 16th April at 2pm. Quite looking forward to this. More information here.



The Phantom Limb by Diana Al-Hadid
Gallery: NYUAD Art Gallery
Dates: Until 28th May 2016

Diana Al-Hadid - Phantom Limb (photo © Hind Mezaina)

Diana Al-Hadid’s works transforms Renaissance and classical imagery into contemporary sculptural forms that appear to be decaying or resurfacing, often in a cascade of white, melting gypsum. Her towering sculptures, spectral wall pieces, and surreal bronzes will fill the 7,000 square foot gallery.

The exhibition takes its title from a central work, Phantom Limb, a term referring to the sensations that a missing arm or leg is still present, and able to move. The title captures the character of much of Al-Hadid’s work, which evokes memory and long cultural history through a visceral, materially-focused working technique. The theme of memory and its physical manifestations in art and architecture runs throughout Al-Hadid’s work.

Two Suns in a Sunset - Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige
Venue: Sharjah Art Foundation, Building J and P, SAF Art Spaces (Sharjah)
Dates: Until 12th June 2016

Lasting Images, 2003 (video still)

Lasting Images, 2003 (video still)


Grounded in the context of Beirut and events that are close to their personal lives, the works of Lebanese artists and filmmakers Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige reflect the artists' ongoing interrogation of imagery, representation and history.

Research is at the centre of their practice—each project beginning with an idea that develops and evolves through the materials the artists encounter along the way.  Images and stories from the past are reactivated in the present creating narratives that are often open-ended and performative and where reality and fiction are in constant flux.

This major exhibition brings to Sharjah a wide selection of work by the artists created from the late 1990s to the present day.


Time is Out of Joint - Curated by Tarek Abou El Fetouh
Venue: Sharjah Art Foundation, Building GH and I, SAF Art Spaces (Sharjah)
Dates: Until 12th June 2016

Tzu-Nyen Ho - Pythagoras (video still from a multi media installation)

This exhibition invites the audience to engage with three platforms; an exhibition, which includes video works, installations and photography; a reading room with a discursive programme that hosts performances, artist talks, and an archive; and a one day conference titled Jogja Equator Conference 2022.

Go see this group exhibition, if only to experience Tzy-Nyen Ho's 35 min multi-media installation, Pythagoras. It evokes a range of feelings. I won't say more to avoid spoilers.