Tea with Culture

A podcast about the cultural happenings in the United Arab Emirates presented by Hind Mezaina (The Culturist) and Wael Hattar.


Entries in Dubai (358)


Deira Polaroids featured in The National


A couple of weeks ago, The National featured my Deira Polaroids series which included my thoughts on Deira (my favourite part of Dubai) and the upcoming changes taking place there, including the recent anouncement of plans to move the dhows that have lined the creek for as long as I remember to a new wharfage. A move that will lead to a dramatic change to the creek both visually and functionally. 

Unlike Polaroid images, which appear almost immediately, the development of photographic projects can often take some time.

When Hind Mezaina started taking her Deira Polaroids she was motivated, in part, by a desire to create an ode to her favourite neighbourhood, an area she not only associated with her own childhood but with the very essence of Dubai.

“To me, Deira is Dubai. It’s the Dubai I know and remember and it occupies a special place in my heart. I experienced it when I was growing up, when I used to go to the souk with my mother and we would visit family and friends,” the 43-year-old photographer, writer and blogger explains.

“Despite all the changes in Dubai it always seemed to be the place that was constant, but even that now seems to be changing.”

In the last six months, Mezaina has noticed an increasing number of empty buildings in the neighbourhood which look as if they are “ hollowed-out and ready to go” and now the rate of change in the area now seems to have reached a tipping point.

Read the complete article here.

Thanks to Nick Leech for asking thoughtful questions and an article I was happy to read. More thoughts on Deira coming soon. Watch this space. 


Al Sourat Photo Festival 2014 - (In) Out 40 Years of French and Emirati Photography in the UAE

Institut Français
in the United Arab Emirates presents Al Sourat Photo Festival 2014 spread across three venues in Abu Dhabi and Dubai and on till 15th January 2015.

Al Sourat Photo Festival features French and Emirati photographers who captured the spirit of the UAE between 1974 and 2014. Their works investigate the thematic “In / Out” - public spaces and private realms of Emirati society, showcasing the complex ever changing cultural environment from the nation’s birth to the present day.

The core aim of Al Sourat Photo Festival 2014 is to create an artistic journey, a dialogue between the works of French and Emirati artists through photography, resulting in the creation of new bridges between the two cultures, enhancing their exchange, long-term relationship and cultural cooperation.


The festival includes  Jack BurlotThierry BouëtOlivier Escarguel and Anne-Marie Filaire from France. The Emirati photographers include an all female line up, Lamya GargashReem SaeedFatima Al Yousef and yours truly. 

Here's a small selection of the photos from the festival. Venue details can be found after the photos. 


Fatima Al Yousef 


Thierry Bouët


Jack Burlot


Anne-Marie Filaire



Lamya Gargash


Hind Mezaina




Exhibition locations and dates:


Alserkal Cultural Foundation in Al Fahidi Heritage District,  15th December - 8th of January 2015 

This exhibition will showcase 34 pictures which all unveil A Portrait of the UAE (Part I).


Abu Dhabi 
Corniche (East Plaza), 16th - 30th December 2014

An outdoor photography exhibition on the Corniche (East Plaza) will showcase 30 pictures realized in the 1970’s by the French photographer Jack Burlot including an unprecedented reportage on Late Sheikh Zayed and on the daily life in the UAE in 1974, from the 16th to the 30th of December 2014.

This exhibition Selected portraits of Late Sheikh Zayed and pictures of Abu Dhabi in the 1970’s presents unique and previously unseen pictures of H.H Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founder and first President of the United Arab Emirates.



Abu Dhabi
Avenue at Etihad Towers, 17th December 2014 - 15th January 2015

A Portrait of the UAE (Part II) from the 17th of December until 15th of January will present 32 pictures realized by French and Emirati photographers in Avenue at Etihad Towers.  




Declaration by eL Seed at Tashkeel

eL Seed
 is known for his use of larger than life murals using traditional Arabic calligraphy. For his latest exhibition titled "Declaration" at Tashkeel, his work has taken on a sculptural form and the gallery is covered with giant pink calligraphy. The exhibition is on till Saturday, 27th December 2014.   


Here are photos from the exhibition:


Developed over the course of his residency at Tashkeel and presented in collaboration with the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation, el Seed took his inspiration from a poem by Nizar Qabbani. 



The poet describes the beauty of his lover despite her age and eL Seed uses this poem as the basis of his work, publicly declaring his love for the ancient art of calligraphy.



Using large scale sculptures that weave through the walls and floors, spilling beyond the confines of the gallery, each stroke of a letter and word seeks to build an affinity with the spectator and invites them to be part of the conversation – a conversation between the poem, the language, the form and eL Seed.



By introducing these works into a new medium, eL Seed pays homage to his earlier pieces, artistically articulating his process of reinvention.


“These new works are an approach to have the viewer more involved with the piece, and move away from being a spectator.  Jean Cocteau said ‘There is no love. There are only proofs of love’ and bringing my art into 3D was a way to allow it to materialize. The work is still tied to my instinctive visual language, but by releasing the letter forms I've discovered new territories for expression that celebrate and elaborate my deep respect and love for this art,” says eL Seed.



Event details

Date: On till Saturday, 27th December 2014, Saturday - Thursdau, 8:00am - 10:00pm 
Venue: Tashkeel, Nad Al Sheba (location map)
Free entry.


The Beginnings of a Nation by Anita Van der Krol at The Empty Quarter


The Beginnings of a Nation is the latest exhibition at The Empty Quarter featuring photographs by Anita Van der Krol of Dubai in the late 1970s, a few years after the formation of the United Arab Emirates in 1971. "It was a period of transition from nomadic life to the first communities of this newly founded nation," states Van Der Krol.

In 1975, the wife of a Dutch dredging engineer, Anita Van der Krol was in a unique position to shoot intimate pictures of the first nomads to settle in this land. Living as an expat in Jumeirah, she became one of the first inhabitants of Jebel Ali Village. 

Rather naively, Van Der Krol ventured out to the villages, souks and sandy desert, with two small children in tow and managed to win the confidence and respect of the hundreds of people she met while photographing their way of life. “Some of them had never had a photo of themselves before. They were delighted and you can see that in the photographs,” states Van der Krol.

The Bedouin images from the desert must have been among the last taken, before this entire population gave up their nomadic existence and settled down to form towns and villages.

Van der Krol’s insightful photographs have rapidly become part of the heritage of this young country and a source of national pride.  


The exhibition is on till Wednesday, 31st December 2014. Here are some photos from the exhibition. 



Event details
Date: On till Wednesday, 31st December 2014. Sunday - Thursday 10.00 am - 8.00 pm. 
Venue: The Empty Quarter, Gate Village, Bldg 02, DIFC, Dubai
Free entry.  



Foam Talent 2014 at East Wing, Dubai

East Wing in Dubai is hosting Foam Talent 2014
, in partnership with Foam, the leading international photographic organization based in Amsterdam. The exhibition is on till Saturday, 10th January 2015.  

The exhibition showcases a collection of international cutting edge photographic talent to the Gulf Region, selected by Foam from their annual "Talent Call".   

Foam’s annual "Talent Call" is one of the international photographic industry’s most prestigious instruments for scouting and presenting young photographers. The "Talent Call" with its accompanying presentation in Foam Magazine and touring exhibition provides a unique career building platform, helping to launch aspiring talents to an important next step in their photographic career. 

The Foam Talent label gives these photographers international acclaim and recognition.  This year, out of the 1,473 submissions from 71 different countries that were submitted, 21 artists were selected.


The Foam talents for 2014 are:
Christto & Andrew (QA), Charles-Henry Bédué (FR), Andrey Bogush (RUS/FIN), Jonny Briggs (UK), Daniel Everett (US), Lucas Foglia (US), Julien Gremaud (CH), Eva O'Leary and Harry Griffin (US), Jing Huang (CHN), Otto Kaan (NL), Sasha Kurmaz (UA), Catharine Maloney (US), Yoshinori Mizutani (JP), Nerhol (JP), Alice Quaresma (BRA), Émilie Régnier (CAN), Jan Rosseel (BE), Jennifer Niederhauser Schlup (CH), Sarah Ancelle Schönfeld (DE), Lukas Wassmann (CH), Hannah Whitaker (US)

Foam Talent 2014 has already been exhibited in Amsterdam and Paris, so it's wonderful to see it come to Dubai, an opportunity for anyone interested in photography to see new work. It's also great to see this year's edition includes artists from the Gulf region, the Qatar based duo Christto & Andrew

The following is a small selection of work from Foam Talent 2014 (all text via which can also be found in the Foam Talent 2014 magazine issue which is worth purchasing). The exhibition is on till Saturday, 10th January, make sure you go visit to see the work in person. 


Christto & Andrew


'Underlying the pair's interest in colour, excess and fakery is a strong critique of their adopted home. Simplistically, it highlights the mute tonalities of contemporary Middle Eastern art, which chafes against the pair's own experience of colour in their birth countries. More fundamentally, the pop-propagandistic idiom of their work is both a reproduction of, and analysis of Qatar's optimistic but unequal modernisation drive.'

From Christto Sanz and Andrew Weir, an essay on Christto & Andrew by Sean O'Toole. 

Charles-Henry Bédué

'In his project L'Habit Fait Le Moine, or The Clothes Make The Man, the French photographer Charles-Henry Bédué supplies a unique and highly thought-provoking window into aspects of materialism in Chinese culture. Photographed between 2011 and 2013 in Beijing, Bédué's project ostensibly focuses on objects of consumption such as clothing, shoes, handbags, mobile phones, food and so forth. Perhaps aided by his culturally elevated position as photographer and artist, he is able to enter seemingly exclusive venues for the emerging class of elites where these objects are put on display for others to see.'

From Fashioning the Rise of a New Global Economic Order, an essay on Charles-Henry by Marco Bohr. 

Jonny Briggs

'An encounter with the work of Jonny Briggs is profoundly unsettling. To enter into his artistic world is to inhabit a parallel universe created by the lovechild of David Lynch and Ralph Eugene Meatyard. The spirit of enquiry that propels this work, coupled with its formal beauty, symmetry, and strict application of colour, seduce the viewer into a prolonged act of looking.'

From Meeting Myself Coming Back, an essay on Jonny by Max Houghton.

Andrey Bogush

'When Andrey Bogush began studying psychology, he also started making photographs. His first pictures, made for his friends and family, took natural subjects and were printed as straight images. 'I was making landscapes. Cheesy sunsets and blah blah blah,' he explained dismissively to me over a shoddy skype connection. I wanted to know why such fine pictures weren't good enough, why he feels the need to alter them. Bogush says quite casually of his current practice, 'I should like the original image. I should like it somehow. But the next stage is either destroying it or doing something with it.''

From A Loving Destruction, an essay on Andrey by Matthew Leifheit. 

Julien Gremaud

'Once blown up to large-scale photographic prints, these double images become haunting monuments to a paradoxical world where the very notion of an objective media comes into question. Gremaud purposefully presents double images that create a contradiction from within: an idyllic holiday scene mixed together with a destroyed cityscape, or an image of mourners overlooking a mass grave juxtaposed with a photograph of a hectic media scrum.'

From Representing the Death of Neoliberalism, an essay on Julien by Marco Bohr. 

Jing Huang

'The scenes and people in Jing Huang's photographs are quite familiar: a group of trees, an outstretched hand dropping a bottle, two boats at sea, and a cat lounging on a step. Nothing flashy or obviously exotic grabs the viewer's attention. Yet within these mundane vignettes is an undercurrent of mystery. Is it the open expanse of warm light that wraps the trees in fog, or the sense that the bottle being dropped will land on a boat seen in the distance? Hard to say, yet there is always something there - something that fuels a desire to explore beyond the image surface.'

From Visual Poetry, an essay on Jing by Russet Lederman. 

Sasha Kurmaz

'The recent anti-government protests in Ukraine that began in November 2013 as a response to the rejection of a trade agreement with the EU and the strengthening political influence of Putin's Russia brought protestors in their hundreds of thousands into Independence Square in Kiev. The protesters who occupied the square, the Maidan, became the targets of brutal violence; the surrounding pale stone buildings were blackened by fire. Ukrainian artist Sasha Kurmaz witnessed this profoundly shocking chapter in his country's tumultuous history. His necessary artistic response was spontaneous: art as resistance; art as freedom.'

From Space of Possibilities, an essay on Sasha by Max Houghton.

Yoshinori Mizutani

'The Tokyo Parrots are obvious in some ways. We would conceivably notice them ourselves were we to wander the particular streets of Tokyo they live near. But for sure we would not see them the way Yoshinori Mizutani makes us see and experience them. The photographer elevates what must be a strange spectacle in person, to bring us a different, equally strange, and compelling beautiful spectacle in the form of photographs.'

From Tokyo Parrots, an essay on Yoshinori by Jörg Colberg.


'Through a process of discovery that combines the layering of multiple images with the reductive act of carving, Nerhol enlivens the flat and motionless planes of a photograph to reveal the connected fleeting movements that are the spirit of a living organism. Simply put, Nerhol expands our collective understanding of time through works that address the once-alive, now-dead side effect that is a residue of photography's fundamental nature.'

From Time Rediscovered, an essay on Nerhol by Russet Lederman.

Émilie Régnier

'I am really driven by the idea of showing a West African society that is growing,' says Régnier. That means ignoring the easy and the rote: pictures of elites quaffing champagne, or images cataloguing the atrocities of war. Witnessing with a camera takes many forms. For Régnier, photographic truth is located in the bodily presence of young West Africans proudly negotiating their future, a diverse future of many possibilities.'

From Diverse Future, an essay on Émilie by Sean O'Toole.  

Sarah Ancelle Schönfeld

'For All you can feel, Schönfeld transformed her studio into an alchemist's laboratory in which she combined the chemical components of photography and drugs to create a new amalgam. On the monochrome surfaces of developed negatives, she dripped liquid drugs from a pipette. According to its chemical composition, each created the most fantastic shapes.'

From Altered States, an essay on Sarah by Kim Knoppers. 

Hannah Whitaker

'The structure of a photograph is often inaudible, muffled by the image it depicts. Hannah Whitaker amplifies this edifice, often working within strict, self-imposed structures derived from systems such as music and mathematics; the resulting work purposefully undermines its own logic by embracing chance and human error. Her light-based, in-camera work puts the material flatness of the photograph at odds with the dimensionality of her underlying, figurative photographic representations.'

From Open Systems, an essay on Hannah by Liz Sales. 



Event details

Date: On till Saturday, 10th January 2015 (Saturday - Thursday 10:00am – 3:00pm and 5:00- 8:00 pm)
Venue: East Wing, Limestone House, Dubai International Financial Centre (location map)
Free entry.



The Object as Mediator by Robbert&Frank/Frank&Robbert at The Mine

The Mine
is an art space which opened last year in Dubai which exhibits work ranging from video and audio installations to painting, photography, sculptures and fashion. 

On Tuesday, 16th December 2014, The Mine will present "The Object as Mediator" by artistsRobbert&Frank/Frank&Robbert, who incorporate visual art, video, theatre and interaction in their performance art.

For their forthcoming performance at The Mine, the pair; inspired by the space’s concept and raw industrial décor, will focus their attention on the concept of portability. The idea that an object is defined by its origin and functionality may be altered by its usage in space and time, giving the object a new context and thus distorting our very perception of it. 

They will explore the theory that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, if an object’s parts are dismantled and reassembled differently, our identification, and interpretation of the object reshapes our sensory information. R&F F&R have often re-used some of their creations, perpetuating the idea that objects are in a constant state of evolution.   

The associative performance will include the superimposition of various video projections, live installations which will see their activation as they are unveiled and manipulated to fit different interpretations and performances during which viewers will be invited to take part.  

Event details

Date: Tuesday, 16th December 2014, 6.00-9.00pm
Venue: The Mine, Street 8a (Opposite Al Serkal Avenue), Warehouse 38, Al Quoz 1, Dubai, UAE
Phone: +971 (0) 4 379 1704
Free entry.


Film screening: Björk: Biophilia Live and When Bjork met Attenborough


DUCTAC in Dubai is hosting a free screening of Björk's concert film Biophilia Live and the documentary When Bjork met Attenborough on Friday, 5th December at 5pm. 

The screening will take place in Kilachand Studio Theatre and admission is free, but you must register to attend (send an email to 

I must say it's a missed opportunity not to screen the films in DUCTAC's main hall, Centrepoint Theatre which I personally think is more suited for a film like Biophilia Live. Nevertheless, it's great the film will be screened here. It's received very good reviews and whether you're a Bjork fan or not (and how could you not be), don't miss the film and the documentary. 


Biophilia (duration: 97 mins) 


Biophilia Live is a concert film directed by Peter Strickland and Nick Fenton and produced by Jacqui Edenbrow that captures the human element of björk’s multi-disciplinary multimedia project: Biophilia.

Recorded live at Björk’s show at London’s Alexandra Palace in 2013, the film features Björk and her band performing every song on ‘biophilia’ and more using a broad variety of instruments – some digital, some traditional, and some completely unclassifiable.

The film has already been hailed as “a captivating record of an artist in full command of her idiosyncratic powers” (Variety) and “an imaginative stand-alone artwork” (Hollywood Reporter) and is a vital piece of the grand mosaic that is ‘Biophilia.’



When Bjork met Attenbourough (duration: 48mins)

Björk and Sir David Attenborough have long admired each other's work. In this remarkable documentary they explore our relationship with music and how it exists in the natural world.


If you can't make it, or not in Dubai, you can download/stream the film and the documentary here



Event details
Date: Friday, 5th December 2014 at 5pm (there will be a 20min break between the two films)
Venue: Kilachand Studio Theatre, DUCTAC, Mall of the Emirates, Dubai
Free admission, but registartion in advance is necessary. Send an email to  


QUOZ Arts Festival 2014


The third edition of QUOZ Arts Festival is on this Saturday, 8th November 2014 from 10am - 10pm. The all day event will include exhibition tours, performances, talks and film screenings - all free to enter. The complete schedule and map can be downloaded from here

The community-based event returns with an expanded programme, which will offer public events spanning design, music, art and film, across 45 creative spaces in Al Quoz’s arts district. Running from 10am till 10pm, the festival is free to attend and is open to all, making it a great initiative for the community to get involved in the local arts scene.

This year’s line-up will include live art and public murals by local artists, workshops, film screenings, gallery openings, live music performances and a street food market. Dedicated family-friendly events and workshops will take place through the day catering to children and parents alike.


Whilst most of the participating spaces are within walking distances, there are a few that aren't. There will be free QUOZ branded shuttle buses available for pick up and drop off from Times Square Mall and First Gulf Bank Metro Station to the various Quoz Arts Festival participating spaces.   


I won't highlight any specific exhibitions because they are all worth visiting (complete list of galleries can be found here), but I will highlight some of the events and spaces that are worth checking out. 


Satellite (10.00 am - 10.00 pm)
You will find a selection of art, publications, music and t-shirts by Barbu, Digital Gravel DXB, LovePrint. Satellite can be found in Alserkal Avenue.

Film screenings at Art Sawa (11.00am - 8.00pm) 
Art Sawa will sreen 3 artist-based film screenings throughout the day.

Pollock at 11.00am 

Basquiat at 4.40pm 

Love is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon at 8.00pm  

Sound Art Performance with Fari Bradley and Chris Weaver at Gallery Ward (4.30pm - 5.00pm)

Demo at Gulf Photo Plus of tintype portraits by Antonie Robertson (5.00pm - 6.00pm) 
Exhibiting artist Antonie Robertson will walk viewers through the tintype photography process by capturing portraits live on site at Gulf Photo Plus. You will also get a chance to see his solo exhibition, The Slow Portrait - UAE Tintype Photography.

Artist Talk at A4 Space (5.00pm - 6.00pm)  
Artists Lynne Heller and Jackie Calderwood will present a talk on ‘Engines of Difference’, a site-responsive project using tourist transportation and the geography of Dubai. 

Improv Theatre at The Courtyard Playhouse (6.30pm - 9.00pm)
Drama fans are invited to watch a showcase by the Geoffrey Dolan workshop participants from 6.00pm - 7.30pm, and the interactive and unpredictable show "Maestro" from 8.00pm. 

Film screening at A4 Space (7.00pm - 10.00pm)   
Dubai International Film Festival present ‘Hopper Stories’, a unique series of short fiction films inspired by the extraordinary work of American painter Edward Hopper.  




Event details
Date: Saturday, 8th November 2014 from - 10.00pm
Venue: Al Quoz, Dubai (location map
Detailed map and schedule of events. Free branded shuttles will be available for pick up and drop off from Times Square Mall and First Gulf Bank Metro Station to various Quoz Arts Festival participating spaces in Alserkal Avenue and Al Quoz.




QUOZ Arts Festival 2014 




Film Screening: The City Dark 

To accompany its latest exhibition Darkened Cities by Thierry Cohen, East Wing will host a free film screening of The City Dark on Tuesday, 28th October 2014.


It's quite a suitable film to watch at this exhibition, since it addresses some of the issues raised in the Darkened Cities photo series, i.e. lack of visible stars in our skies due to light pollution and its impact on us physically and psychologically. It's a documentary worth watching, so if you're in the neighbiourhood, don't miss this. The exhibition is worth visiting as well. 


The City Dark chronicles the disappearance of darkness. When filmmaker Ian Cheney moves to New York City from Maine and discovers an urban sky almost completely devoid of stars. He poses a deceptively simple question, "What do we lose, when we lose the night?”



Exhibition details 
Date: Tuesday, 26th October at 7pm (Darkened Cities exhibition on till 20th November 2014)
Venue: Limestone House #12, Dubai International Financial Center (location map)
Free entry. 



Exhibition - Works on Paper: Hikayat at Green Art Gallery 

Installation view of Works on Paper: Hikayat

Last Saturday I visited Green Art Gallery to see Works on Paper: Hikayat. The exhibition includes over 50 works on on paper by Modern Arab artists including Khouzayma AlwaniMahmoud HammadAdham IsmailJamil MolaebFateh MoudarresAref El RayessKhaldoun ShishaklySeif Wanly and Elias Zayat


Taking storytelling as its main theme ("hikayat" means stories in Arabic), the exhibition brings together works that offer a glimpse of drawing’s potential to make cultural, social, and political proposals or stories, through diverse formal processes. 

Drawing is a medium that offers an intimate and open field for imaginative elaboration, in which concepts and ideas can emerge and change with relative ease. Uninhibited by the obligation to create a finished and independent object, as is traditionally associated with painting and sculpture, drawing as a medium lends itself readily to the theoretical and the experimental. 


The exhibition includes work that is beautiful, harsh, emotional and sensual. Despite all the artists being male, there is a strong female presence in the exhibition. There are some rare works here, so if you are in Dubai, don't miss this, it's on till Suday, 26th October.

My only gripe is that I wish the gallery includes a small description about each artist or work to help visitors understand the importance of this work, and to put it in cultural and historical context relevant to this region.)



My favourite work from this exhibition is a one of a kind piece by Khaldoun Sheishakly (see images below). Titled Shops and Vendors of the Past, it is a collection of 500 works on paper and due to its delicate condition, we cannot browse through each sheet. But the few pages that were laid out had such amazing details drawn with an ink pen, each one telling stories visually and with words. This piece ought to be in a museum for more people to see it. It is sublime. 

Khaldoun Shishakly, Shops and Vendors of the Past, Ink on paper, set of 100 works, each 26 x 21 cm

Installation view of Khaldoun Shishakly's Shops and Vendors of the Past, Ink on paper, set of 100 works, each 26 x 21 cm

Shops and Vendors of the Past is a rare account of 500 works on paper by a Syrian artist, Khaldoun Sheishakly, who has spent his entire life drawing and documenting 500 Damascene professions in intricate detail.

It represents an important history of storytelling and life in Syria and summarizes the artists’ needs to carve a cultural identity that reflected the groundbreaking social and political changes that were taking place at that time. 



Here are more works from the exhibition. 

Khouzayma Alwani

Khouzayma Alwani, Untitled, 1999, Ink on canson paper, 35.5 x 26.5 cm

The region’s political turmoils in the 1970s and 80s are portrayed by Khouzayma Alwani (b.1934, Syria). Alwani’s delicate horrors are so exquisite they beguile the viewer into fascination with intricate imagery. Following the Hama Massacre of 1981, his work revolved around the world as a big dramatic theater of monsters and beasts, in a tacit allusion to the Syrian society in a state of devastation. 


Aref El Rayess

Aref El Rayess, Untitled, c. 1973, Ink on canson paper, 36 x 44.5 cm

Aref El Rayess, Untitled, c. 1973, Ink on canson paper, 37.5 x 38 cm

The work in the exhibition by Aref el Rayess (1928-2005, Lebanon) belong to a series of drawings he produced in the early 1970s to denounce the corruption he was witnessing within the political circles governing the Middle East after the Cairo accord in 1969 and the 1973 Arab Israeli war.

For El Rayess, it is as if the leaders and politicians were gambling our destinies through fishy manipulations and tacit agreements, hence jeopardizing the ideals of the revolution his generation firmly believed in and fought for. The age of deceit has started, and the political scene in the Arab world seems like a big farce. 



Mahmoud Hammad

Mahmoud Hammad, Untitled, 1957, Gouache on paper, 35 x 26 cm 

Mahmoud Hammad, Untitled, 1958, Gouache on paper, 36 x 46 cm

Syrian master Mahmoud Hammad (1923-1988, Syria) recounted rural Syrian life, earlier in his career. Although he has been widely known for his late Abstract Calligraphic period (during the period 1964 till his death in 1988), in which the Arab script and letters became the main element, Hammad’s earlier work are of equal importance.

Upon his return from Rome, he moved to Daraa where he lived for two years and started a series of paintings depicting the social scenes of the Southern area of Horan (Daraa). During that period, Hammad’s central theme was the concept of the family, in addition to the role of the mother.

He was also concerned with the political landscape during that period such as February 1958, a work through which he evoked the union between Egypt and Syria by depicting the metaphorical birth of the two nations' child and at the same time, alluded to the Palestinian cause in many of his works amongst which A Girl from Horan, Wounded and Exile.

This exhibition includes Hammad’s works on paper from the Horan period, most of which became studies for much larger paintings, and many of which have never been shown to the public. 


Adham Ismail

Adham Ismail, Untitled, Ink on carton, 47.5 x 32.5 cm

Adham Ismail, Untitled, Ink on carton, 44 x 32 cm


Jamil Molaeb

Jamil Molaeb, Untitled, c. 1992, Gouache on carton, 50 x 70 cm

For many artists of his generation, storytelling included the representation of the traditional rural life they were witnessing. This is true of Lebanese artist Jamil Molaeb’s (b. 1948) works, which were inspired by the landscapes he saw in the mountains of Lebanon and other sceneries from the traditional life of different Arab communities, depicting in his own way the villages, cities, fields and the people in their daily life. 


Fateh Moudarres

Fateh Moudarres, Untitled, 1981, Watercolor on paper, 29.5 x 38.5 cm

For Fateh Moudarres (1922-1999, Syria), his representational language was engaged with mythology, religion and popular lore as well as a deep political engagement. An accomplished writer and poet, his “dessins” were also featured in several of his published short stories.

Moudarres was once quoted: “It looks childish, but it is not childish. In my paintings one can see, how much I love human beings, in my art I stand near them, when the power of fate and oppressive structures beset them”.  


Seif Wanly

Seif Wanly, Untitled, c. 1953, Pastel on canson paper, 30.5 x 47 cm

Seif Wanly, Untitled, c. 1953, Pastel on canson paper, 30.5 x 47 cm

The theatrical and the sublime is present in the work of Egyptian artist Seif Wanly (1906-1979). The exhibition includes several works on paper in which he portrayed society’s more esoteric dimensions, featuring medieval traditions, circus acrobats and ballet dancers. 


Elias Zayat

Elias Zayat, The Rider, 1967, Ink and watercolor on paper, 63 x 43 cm

Another artist who has been throughly engaged with mythology is the Syrian artist Elias Zayat (b. 1935). Considered among the great modern artists in Syria, Zayat has had a long and rich career in painting and drawing over many decades.

Known for his dramatic portraiture of mankind, his practice has been thoroughly engaged with the visual legacy of mythology, ancient civilizations and religions in the region. Figures intertwine, almost floating, while recurring images of faces, some classical, others saintly and yet others tortured, recall Zayat’s other endeavor – conservationist and restorer of orthodox icons.   




Exhibition details
Date: On till Saturday, 26th October 2014, Saturday - Thursday 10am - 7pm
Venue: Green Art Gallery, Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz, Dubai (location map) 



[images and text via Green Art Gallery]

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