Exhibitions


Waseem Marzouki

 

16 September – 18 October 2014

Meem Gallery is pleased to present The Firm, Syrian artist Waseem Marzouki’s first solo exhibition at the gallery and in the United Arab Emirates. Displaying video art and a series of seventeen mixed media on paper and canvas works that take on the appearance of blueprints, Marzouki examines systems of power, be it political or cultural, that have played an integral role in the recent tensions, upheavals and bloodshed within the Arab world. This is manifested in the artist’s careful delineation of power plants, key elements in each composition, which are used to construct weapons and tanks for warfare. Here, each power plant represents individual units of power that form a collective group, or power system, that is integral to the destruction of innocent communities living within zones of combat. The series also reflects on the recent Arab Springs and the way in which these events made collaborative and individual systems of power more apparent. The technical approach to drawing Marzouki employs also reflects the dispassionate nature of military planning which encompasses a ‘network of inescapable supply chains and logistics.’ Within each composition, Marzouki incorporates other codes and references such as English and Arabic script (from an ancient book on the Beit al-Maal), tiger-skin patterns, diagrams and dimensions of weapons and wooden spades. In Untitled 10, the wooden spade is the central focus of the work, transforming into a globe of the world, shifting these networks of power from the region to the world at large.

 

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Kamal Boullata : Bilqis

 

12 May-31 July 2014

Transparency and spatial ambiguity are the subjects of a series of large paintings whose title Bilqis is borrowed from the Arabic name of the queen of Sheba. According to the Qur’anic legend, upon entering the court of King Solomon, Bilqis mistaking its glass floor for a sheet of water lifted up her skirt to avoid getting it wet. Over the centuries, glass floors, fountains and ceramic walls alluding to glistening surfaces touched by water were combined to become the aesthetic hallmark of all palatial buildings in the Islamic world. In the process, symmetries and spatial ambiguity in visual perception was to foster the evolution of geometric abstraction in Islamic art.

The series composed of 15 geometrically abstract acrylic paintings on canvas, was conceived to be displayed in the form of 5 triptychs. In each triptych, vertical and diagonal lines intersect at variable angles to create a horizontal composition. The rhythmic sequence of forms is set in accordance with a geometric formula of proportions originally evolved in tenth century Baghdad. The transparent layers of free-flowing brushstrokes are sharply delineated by the precision of hard-edged painting. The contrasting combination recalls the words of Novalis, ‘Chaos in a work of art should shimmer through the veil of order.’ The issuing contrast of overlapping forms stirs a sense of movement punctuated by intermittent flashes of light. Contrary to a perspectival illusion of space, foreground and background become interchangeable. Seeming symmetries and refractions are perceived through the interweaving of polygons and triangles whose correspondence recalls ambiguities intrinsic to geometric arabesques.

 

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Mahmoud Obaidi: The Replacement

 

11 March-1 May 2014

Meem Gallery is pleased to present Mahmoud Obaidi’s first solo exhibition in the United Arab Emirates, The Replacement, which explores the subject of political propaganda through different modes of communication and imagery. The exhibition presents over thirty works that span a range of media including sculpture, silkscreen prints and video art.

In 2003, a storage container was discovered in an unknown location in the Middle East. Stored inside were numerous boxes that held the political campaign material (believed to date from 1979 to 1983) of a now unknown man. The contents caught the eye of an art collector based in North America, who purchased the collection in an agreement that prevented him from displaying the items publicly until 2014. Last year, through a mutual friend, the collector contacted Mahmoud Obaidi so they could collaborate on an exhibition project that would recreate many of the items uncovered in 2003. The Replacement is the result of this collaboration.

With his head held high, the seemingly indomitable figure of this political ‘leader’ is repeatedly reproduced by Obaidi in campaign posters, postage stamps, banknotes and press coverage. In one work, his head is presented in a roundel, reminiscent of the ancient Roman tradition, under which foliage and a bright sun shines over a modern city. Here, he takes on an almost god-like status, reigning over and protecting his people and nation. Through this imagery, Obaidi reflects on the way in which visual material can be used to manipulate the masses in an individual’s quest for power and authority. With regard to his artistic practice, Obaidi notes that ‘Information is bigger and more important than the object and the intellectual product is the whole process.’

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Charity Exhibition: Save the Children. Emergency Appeal. Children of Gaza.

 

27 January -6 February 2014  

Meem Gallery is pleased to present the Children of Gaza exhibition. In 2009 three international photographers with the support of Save the Children entered Gaza. For nearly two weeks the award winning photographers, Anthony Dawton, Jim McFarlane and Giuseppe Aquili photographed children and their families, victims of the Israeli incursion of 27 December 2008. The images are extraordinary. They tell of what happened and the damage done, physically and psychologically but they also tell of a people, particularly the children, bright, intelligent and full of hope. 

The exhibition is as dramatic in its presentation as the images themselves are. It comprises of twenty-one black and white photographic art works each 1.5 x 1 metres. Included in the exhibition are eighteen original pieces, inspired by the photographic images, from the renowned artist Dia Azzawi. His images provide a vivid and colourful contrast to the imposing monochrome images of Aquili, Dawton and McFarlane. The digital manipulations represent a new path in the work of his oeuvre.

The exhibition hopes to define the process in which art can bring understanding to seemingly intractable political conflict as well as to highlight the terrible consequences long and short term of such conflicts. Proceeds from the exhibition will go to Save the Children projects in Gaza, particularly its outstanding work with conflict traumatized children. The exhibition should be considered as an installation and the event itself a 'happening'.

www.childrenofgaza.org

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