The world as they see it
Seven artists from different countries are presenting their individual interpretation of contemporary events and the world around us in an exhibition titled 7. The show features solo exhibitions by artists Manal Al Dowayan, Jaffar Al Oraibi, Athier, Nadine Kanso, Roberto Lopardo, Aidan Salakhova and Ayman Yossri Daydban.
Saudi Arabian artist Al Dowayan's photographic series, If I Forget You, Do Not Forget Me, focuses on the generation of Saudi Arabians that built the oil industry in the country. "My father was among the first Saudi Arabians to work in the country's oil industry, and among his prized possessions were samples of crude oil that he studied during his training as a petroleum engineer. After he passed away I was filled with regret that I had never talked to him about his experiences. So to understand his story, I used the collective memories of his colleagues and friends and looked at objects they valued to retrieve the memories they encapsulate. I videotaped interviews with these people and went to their homes and offices to photograph their most valued objects," the artist says.
Each of her photographs tells a personal story, but together the pictures of oil men and women proudly displaying gas plant and refinery models, awards and certificates speak about the tremendous progress made in just one generation and the lives of the people who built the largest oil company in the world.
On the other hand, Lopardo's photo-montages from his Mapping series tell the story of a city through small moments. The Dubai-based American artist travels to different places and takes one photograph every minute continuously for a 24-hour period. The resulting 1,440 images are then arranged sequentially in 24 rows of 60 columns to present a visual documentary of the place. "Photographs can tell a story, but they can also be used to distort reality. So this project is about revealing all the moments around an individual image. Through various types of photographs, my work references the history of photography, while also embracing the new tool of digital photography," Lopardo says.
Bahraini artist Al Oraibi's mixed-media canvases explore the conflict between the public and private personae of people and the underlying tensions that exist in the interactions between men and women.
Salakhova also explores gender issues in her Persian Miniatures series. The Azerbaijani-Russian artist combines Eastern Islamic influences and Western feminism in her minimalistic monochromatic drawings and paintings to voice the feelings of women.
Jeddah-based Palestinian artist Yossri Daydban's site-specific installation explores the symbolism of the flag to comment on various socio-political issues. The artist has folded large sheets of metal into shapes that appear like the Palestinian flag and sometimes like human figures or shrouds. Suspended together in a stairwell, these unfinished sculptures form a giant set of chimes, emanating a disturbing sound that reflects the turbulence and dissonance in the life of Palestinians.
In Lebanese artist Kanso's installation titled Aah Ya Arab ("Oh, Arabs"), a dining table, chairs and plates are covered with political slogans to reflect how the revolutionary changes in the region have affected the life of ordinary people and infiltrated the safety and privacy of their homes.
London-based Iraqi artist Athier's latest work, The Circles, refers to the form and the deconstruction of the circle in Islamic architecture as a symbol of divine unity. The work comprises two large, colourful, circular abstract paintings on opposite walls connected by geometric patterns on the floor. The patterns of the opposing pieces are inspired by the Minaret of Jam in Afghanistan and the ancient Mustansiriyah Madrasa in Baghdad.
"I use references to ancient architecture but recontextualise them and juxtapose them with modern images to reflect my idealised memories of Iraq and the brutal reality of the present. I have used vibrant colours and shapes to dispel the darkness and offer some hope, but darkness creeps in through small windows featuring trapped figures and explosions. Each of the two circles is essentially a face, and they are in conversation with each other. By walking between them, viewers become part of the dialogue and also disturb it," the artist says.
Jyoti Kalsi is an arts enthusiast based in Dubai.
7 will run at Cuadro Fine Art Gallery, DIFC Gate Village, until May 9.