WASHINGTON: Highlights from ‘Between the Sky and the Earth,’ a show to mark the UAE’s Golden Jubilee, which runs until March 31 at the Middle East Institute
Lamya Gargash — ‘The Court, The Indian Club’
“Between the Sky and the Earth: Contemporary Art from the UAE,” scheduled to mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the UAE, is curated by Munira Al-Sayegh and hosted by the Washington-based Middle East Institute in partnership with the NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery. It shows the work of 12 UAE-based artists and “challenges standard narratives about the Emirates through an intergenerational dialogue exploring their social, cultural and natural landscapes,” according to the MEI. Emirati photographer Lamya Gargash “documents the forgotten spaces in public and private realms in Emirati society.” This image is taken from her “Clubs” series. “Taking visual cues from interior decoration, theatre and museum exhibits, Gargash creates works that layer anxiety, nostalgia and restlessness,” her representatives The Third Line say of Gargash’s work.
Tarek Al-Ghoussein — ‘Island Making 2’
This shot is taken from Al-Ghoussein’s ongoing “Odysseus” series, which the Kuwaiti artist of Palestinian origin began in 2015. “One day I read an article explaining that the planning council was in the process of naming the 215 islands of Abu Dhabi. That was mind-blowing to me. I had no idea that Abu Dhabi had so many islands,” he told Arab News last year, talking about the series. “That article triggered my desire and imagination to go out and visit as many of (them) as I could in a spirit of discovery.” In the series, according to the show catalogue, “Al-Ghoussein lingers on the traces of human presence, capturing images of places and objects that will soon cease to exist.”
Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim — ‘Sapling’
Ibrahim — a founding member of the Emirates Fine Art Society in 1980 — was born in the small city of Khorfakkan, an exclave of Sharjah, and much of his work has been inspired by his relationship with his hometown. “His deep connection to his local environment is reflected in his practice, whether through his installations, drawings or objects,” the show catalogue says. Sculptures such as this one — made of cardboard, stone, copper wire, papier-mâché, and linen — “reflect the natural formations of his domestic landscape.”
Mohammed Kazem — ‘Windows’
Kazem is a significant figure in the ‘Second Generation’ of contemporary UAE artists. He has used a range of mediums in his work. In his recent “Windows” series, from which this painting is taken, he focuses on the fleeting, often-mundane nature of daily life for many of the UAE’s inhabitants. “Invisible and intimate events in the landscape … are witnessed by shadowy, retreating figures, reduced to mere traces,” the catalogue states. In 2019, Kazem told Arab News: “All of my work is really about what I’m seeing and what I’m thinking. It’s playful work. But it’s also serious. And ironic.”
Shaikha Al-Mazrou — ‘Untitled (Blue Chevron)’
The acclaimed Emirati sculptor’s work are, according to the show catalogue, “articulations of tension and the interplay between form and content.” This particular piece, made from wet coated steel, it continues, “is an example of her irreverent use of material and its apparent contradictions.”
Augustine Paredes — ‘Am I Driving Safely?’
The Dubai-based Filipino artist and photographer uses the series from which this image is taken to examine Abu Dhabi’s Mina Zayed port, “capturing the transient lives of the truckers who transport goods to and from the port to destinations across the Arab world, providing a snapshot of the human face of globalization,” the show catalogue says.