To complement the solo exhibition held at Meem Gallery, the gallery will exhibit a selection paintings from the same series, Beauty Blocked My View, at Abu Dhabi Art.


This November Meem Gallery presents a solo show of new works by Syrian-Danish artist Zhivago Duncan. In this series titled, Beauty Blocked My View, Zhivago Duncan delves into the void of a missing link within his ancestral DNA. As the only member of his family born in the United States he has always felt a longing to visit Syria, to see the land of his ancestors and to visit such a culturally important country, as one of the birthplaces of Ancient civilization. While Duncan felt this sense of longing, his family, whose memories of Syria had become shrouded in trauma, did not. His first attempt to return to Syria in 2011 with his mother would not come to pass due to the start of the Arab Spring and the unfolding war. Another attempt in 2014 was also unrealized, when Duncan attempted to cross the border from Jordan, just to place a foot into Syria, but was stopped by the military forces protecting Jordan from the advance of ISIS. Coming to terms with the idea that he will never experience Syria as it truly was, Duncan depicts abstracted, ethereal landscapes that refer to imaginary scenarios of the land, and the beginning of written history. Through a web of interconnected quotes, poetic prophecies and deities, taken from Akkadian and Sumerian language and culture, Duncan creates a world in which he bonds with his ancestral heritage, creating a connection between his personal physicality and a metaphysical personification of a long lost land. As an artist working in a huge variety of media, Duncan now presents this surprising new body of work using the Indonesian method of batik.Batik has a long cultural history throughout the Middle East and Asia and is most developed in Indonesia, where batik has a long history of intricate designs that represent a person’s marital and societal status and their religious preference. A cloth that is usually reserved for clothing and accessories, Duncan has re-purposed this method in the form of canvas, to create painting.

Batik as an art form has a real sense of the personal; the maker of a batik cloth represents themselves within it. Duncan’s oeuvre has always included a sense of autobiographical quality, from his concepts and references points to the descriptive imagery he uses. In Beauty Blocked My View, the autobiographical nature of Duncan’s work is represented in a conceptually focused abstraction, creating landscapes that pulsate with a transcendental quality.