It is only in late 2014 that I visited Al Serkal Avenue for the very first time. I have no excuse not to miss its events such as the Quoz Happenings – I live closeby! Perhaps, it’s the busy-arty-creativity syndrome that many of us suffer from – too many events to attend, too many blogs posts to write, too many customers to make happy…the list goes on. This time round, when I received the event to the Galleries Opening Night last month, I vowed that no matter what, I would attend. And suddenly, the path became clear. Literally. They had straightened out the roads at Umm Sequim and 8th street and they led me straight to the doorstep of Al Serkal Avenue.
The press preview invite allowed me early entry and I was there around half past five and all ready to go round the place (and I went to each and every art gallery – I did not stop to take a break for three hours at least).
While I have done my fair share of instagramming photos of artwork and sculptures that I loved, for the purpose of this blog post, I am listing the three artists whose work moved me. here they are (in no organized order).
1) Mike Arnold – Showcase Gallery
Top on my list is the Art of Architecture and the Architecture of Art by Mike Arnold – originally an architect. His solo exhibition runs at the Showcase gallery till sometime in November 2014. Through his work, he takes his experience as an architect and the construction scenario to a new level – a creative exploration of architecture. The write up of his work reads as follows:
He has set off on a path of exploration delving beneath the veneered surfaces of structures to reveal the unseen layers, textures and connective fabric of builds. Through his interpretations he exposes the shapes that vibrate within and between the layers of interconnections that form our structures.
While I would love to attend the monoprinting workshop series that he is holding over the next few weekends, I may have to give them a miss as I’m quite busy with my own art and craft shows around the Emirates.
2) Pablo Corral Vega at GPP (Gulf Photo Plus)
In collaboration with Majority World Photography, GPP presented an exhibition of photographs that showcased work by talented photographers spanning Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. Photographers whose work caught my eye were Sri Lankan Dominic Sansoni’s ‘Colombo 14’ (and his exploration into the plethora of religions that co-exist gracefully on the streets of Colombo), Dhaka born Khaled Hasan’s ‘My Dream’ (where he tries to capture the good that the city has done to him and his fellowmen – gotta tell ya, his artist statement is nearly three pages in length, one that grabs the attention and takes you into Dhaka, his Dream), Iranian Shadi Ghadirian’s ‘Like Everyday’ (the artist statement begins like this: “I am a woman and I live in Iran.” Her photography captures this statement fully – looking at the “daily repetitive routine” that woman encounters.
But the one photography series that moved me to the core was ‘naked Ecuador beauty’ captured by National Geographic contributor, Pablo Corral Vega. Titled ‘My Garden in the Wild,’ the series evolved as a result of Pablo using photojournalism to heal himself right in the middle of mother nature, after his fiance passed away in a car accident. We all have lost someone or the other to this thing called death. And when it happens suddenly, in an instant, it’s like someone tearing our heart out with a dagger. This photographer got it right, using art in its expanded sense, to gain some form of healing and imbibe a sense of peace. He has dedicated the photography series to the memory of his fiance. You must visit GPP to get (and stay) lost in his larger than life photography. I can guarantee you will walk away feeling that sense of peace.
3) Brown Monkeys
Towards the end of my walk around Al Serkal Avenue, I caught sight of the neon coloured bicycles just outside FN Designs .
After imbibing the sadness of Amir Hossein’s work at SPM (looking at how humankind has always existed in war and negativity and the reality of what the world looks like) and also the absolute distaste towards Bita Fayyazi’s huge cockroach installation at Gallery Isabelle Van Den Eynde (simply because cockroach’s disgust me, after endless lab experiments on them at university – ugh), I was ready for some fun and colour. FN Designs and the Brown Monkeys collective offered me just that.
The theme of the artwork series was based on the theme of Wasta. I had met one of the artists at the Arab Travel Market, @depiktdxb, and I also spotted Darwin Guevarra (who I wrote about over here). Enjoy the panorama photo I took here.http://alghuraircentre.com/
Well, that’s my top three favourite artists, and I’m sure I will see more of that Brown Monkeys and Mike Arnold someday soon. I only hope that for us walking around the space, if there was a way to cordon off cars. Half the time I just forgot myself , my head lost amongst the flyers and artists statements and maps stuffed in my hands, not paying attention to the fact that cars were driving around. That’s one thing that I love about DIFC’s art precinct. It’s car free as we wander from one gallery to another. Fabulous, and no stress.
The other comment I had was that some of the galleries did not have the press releases and artists statements ready. When I asked for them, a moment of realisation had them wanting to print off the statements. Others didn’t know so had to ask the owners of the gallery, who were, of course very busy with their guests. So, that’s why, while I have been able to take photos of a lot of work that interested me and that I wanted to write about, it was not possible to have the name of the artists to write next to it and do a bit of a commentary. In one case, after waiting for ten minutes (well the gal did ask me to wait), I decided to slip away to galleries that were really organised in handing out relevant information and had everything ready to rock and roll.