Taryn Simon at The Pavillion

Taryn Simon at The Pavillion

Today on Artist Strong I’m finally taking the time I should to review some of the interesting artists I observed on my Art Bus tour during Art Dubai in March.

First off, if you haven’t heard of the Art Bus and you live in Dubai its time to join the 21st century. It is an easy, relaxing and fun way to tour Dubai’s art scene. I can tell you I drive all over town but know I could go all over town and not worry myself about the traffic or crazy drivers, it was a huge relief and allowed me to focus on all of the art I was observing. Additionally, volunteer tour guides are trained and help you get around and learn about the artists you are viewing. Art in The City is a great website that you can sign up for that keeps you up to date about Art happenings in Dubai, including the Art Bus.

I rarely motivate to go out to the DIFC despite the one stop shop for art in Dubai. So, that was the route I opted for.

One of the stops of note was at the Pavillion, en route to DIFC. The Pavillion is in Downtown Dubai. I was proud to see an American being exhibited there. She had two exhibits ongoing, which are running from 6 February to 6 May, 2013. One exhibit was entitled An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar. Taryn Simon toured the United States and photographed the hidden or lesser known qualities of American culture. One photograph I found especially interesting was of a news anchor for an American TV Station called Alhurra TV. It’s a TV station conducted entirely in Arabic, funded by the USA to broadcast news in the Middle East and North Africa. this station is forbidden from being broadcast in the US.

Her other exhibit was entitled Contraband. Taryn Simon spent some time at JFK airport in NYC photographing everything that was confiscated in customs. She arranged photographs by categories and printed them on a small scale, framing and boxing them behind plexiglass boxes.

Another gallery of interest was Art Sawa. I was impressed by the exhibit by Zena Assi called Bug Soldiers. It closed one week ago. Her artwork portrays disenchanted male figures, disconnected and confused in response to the violence they face and stand up to, with reference to the Arab Spring.

Zena Assi at Art Sawa

Zena Assi at Art Sawa

Zena Assi’s skill is entirely apparent. I was impressed by her ability to lay color and be selective and purposeful with color. In some of  her works she collages, but even her paintings have a bit of the collage-like quality to them, with areas of the painting made flat even though its part of a figure. She had a series of small paintings also on exhibit that portrayed dense, busy cities that were set up as a grid. I most admired these densely packed images.

Afshin Perhashemi at Ayyam Gallery

Afshin Perhashemi at Ayyam Gallery

Afshin Perhashemi in Ayyam Gallery was another person who impressed me with his skill. His work looks like B/W photographs yet there is still a painterly quality to them. He makes constant use of foreshortening in his paintings to encourage the viewers to feel affronted by the violent and angry women in his images. The work considers the role of Iranian women in society. Part of me wants to begin an entirely different dialogue here (as a man reflecting on the role of women, does this make his work even more sexual or voyeuristic?). I love when work can generate this kind of dialogue.

A work by Bokja at Cuadro Gallery has a much lighter manner of addressing a serious topic. The work: And Then There Were None, references a famous poem many know from the eponymous book by Agatha Christie. Giant balls are covered in assorted materials and placed in the corner of a room with variable distances from one another, almost as if some giant had dropped them from the ceiling and let them fall to the ground and left them there. A large poem that plays on the famous one aforementioned tells a tale of all the Arab leaders who have fallen from power. It was so childlike and playful in some respects, but the topic was serious. It made me laugh out loud. I think few can utilize humor well and its a great skill I wish I had!

And Then There Were None by Bokja

And Then There Were None by Bokja

 

BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: Put Art Dubai dates in your March calendar of next year! The ArtBus is worth it. 🙂

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