Art Scene (September 2011)

On Sept. 6, Ayyam Gallery Damascus presented the exhibition “2012.” Spotlighting recent work by several Damascus-based artists such as Nihad al Turk, Oussama Diab, Mohannad Orabi and Kais Salman, this group show provides an unprecedented look into the complex intertwining of art and politics that has arisen over the past year, as artists have intrepidly responded to widespread turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa.

Sahara Surreal trails the bandwidth of 21st-century life in the great desert, unhinging stereotypes along the way. Andrew McConnell portrays the underexposed Saharawis, who turn plastic into gold with designer Florie Salnot. Photographer Philippe Dudouit is one of the few to visit the Tuareg rebels of Mali and Niger dwelling in zones off-limit to tourists due to unsettling political changes. Architect Magnus Larsson proposes a 6,000 km-long barrier of organically shaped habitable structures by injecting Saharan soil with bacteria that petrify the sand. Aglaïa Konrad focuses on the programmed concretization of the desert in Egypt’s struggling satellite cities. In his desert manufacturing experiments, Markus Kayser focuses the raw energy of the Saharan sun in laser beams that cut wood and make glass from sand.

Ayyam Gallery Beirut currently showcases the exhibition of painter Asma Fayoumi. “The Person Within” features a selection of paintings by the prominent Jordanian artist from 2008 until the present, serving as a chronicle of the artist’s work over the past few years as she projects both introspective and universal themes. Her most recent canvases, produced early this year, reflect a broader take on the institution of family.

Ayyam Gallery Dubai DIFC presents “Nostalgia,” the solo exhibition of Syrian painter Asaad Arabi. A prominent regional artist and critic, Arabi’s latest series presents a new take on a venerated subject, Egyptian songstress Oum Kalthoum. Arabi approaches this icon with colorist expressionism and rhythmic lines that seem to sway with the imagined sounds of her powerful voice. Portrayed in mid performance, Oum Kalthoum is backed by a small orchestra, as Arabi toys with positive and negative space with various tones and forms.

Nadim Karam’s urban sculptures will be part of “Beyond Limits” exhibition, Sotheby’s annual selling exhibition of monumental sculptures hosted in the garden of Chatsworth House. The exhibition has firmly established itself on the arts calendar and is one of the most prestigious platforms for displaying modern and contemporary outdoor sculpture. Nadim Karam’s works will be exhibited alongside more than 20 leading artists from around the world, including René Magritte, Takashi Murakami, William Turnbull, Marc Quinn, Ju Ming, Jaume Plensa and Barry Flanagan.

Green Art Gallery opens its Fall 2011/2012 program with a solo exhibition for the acclaimed Syrian painter Ahmad Moualla, presenting a new body of large-scale paintings. Marking the artist’s third solo exhibition at the Gallery, the exhibition opens on September 19 and will be on view until November 10, 2011. A reception will be held on the opening date from 7 to 9 p.m. in the presence of the artist.
Ahmad Moualla, a Syrian artist born in 1958 and based in Damascus, has become well known for his beautifully painted and highly dramatic canvases. Composed on a grand scale, Moualla’s theatrical paintings wrestle with the often strained relationship between society and the individual; his works tackle the power of past and present icons through the increased blurring of the line between reality and fiction, and the conscious and subconscious mind.

Article by Marriam M Mossalli – Arab News