What To See This Week: Middle Eastern Art Worldwide

Ali Banisadr Rise of the Blond
Ali Banisadr
Ali Banisadr. The Rise of the Blond, 2016, Oil on Linen, 66 x 88 inches
Last chance to view these solo exhibitions showing in Dubai, Lebanon and New York

Sperone Westwater Gallery

Exhibition title: Trust in the Future

New York-based artist Ali Banisadr’s latest show comprises paintings and work on paper. These ‘world landscapes’ are connotative, the fluid, expressive brushstrokes accentuated by both a feisty colour palette and monochromes in different works. The paintings feature swirling figures in a surreal landscape with political undertones, taking a cue from personal memory as Banisadr grew up during the 1979 Islamic Revolution, harrowed by war and destruction. He draws on the printmaking technique, scraping paint to enhance the intricacy of his figures. He offers just enough to feed the viewer’s inherent appetite to build a narrative, except not fully satiating it.

Sperone Westwater, New York. Speronewestwater.com Tel +1 212 999 7337. Until 24 June.

Rohan Khanna. The Cave I. Oil on Canvas. 44 x 62 inches

XVA Gallery

Exhibition title: Sensations of Space

This is emerging US-based artist Rohan Khanna’s first solo show in a commercial gallery, featuring small and large-scale oil paintings on canvas. Textured, nuanced and layered with colours, the works are a keen exploration of relationships and emotion. Khanna uses a dark colour palette with blue, green and brown hues to unsettling effect, but the soft, thoughtful brushstrokes evoke a sense of calm. Khanna explores subtly different tones to create swirls and depth that only a closer, more concerted look would make apparent. This is deliberate as he wants the viewer to give thought to the works and imbue them with their own meaning.

XVA Gallery, Dubai. Xvagallery.com Tel +9714 353 5383. 25 May until 26 June.

Yazan Khalili. Robbery in Area A. 2013-2016. Video still from three channel video installation. Courtesy Lawrie Shabibi and the artist
Lawrie Shabibi

Exhibition title: On the Other Side of the Law

Palestinian artist Yazan Khalili’s first solo exhibition in Dubai encompasses installation, painting and photography, depicting the blurred line between law and justice in light of contemporary politics. Among the works on view are Robbery in Area A, a three-channel video installation, a selection of paintings titled Apartheid Monochromes, and Regarding Distance, a diptych of two photographs, all exploring issues crucial to Palestinian and human identity at large. For Khalili, these themes hit too close to home, evident as they lie at the core of his works and are explored through various mediums.

Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai. Lawrieshabibi.com Tel +971 4346 9906. 22 May until 27 June.

Rabih Mroué. The Fall of a Hair: Blow Ups. 2012. Pigmented inkjet prints. Each 130 x 90 cm

Sfeir-Semler Gallery

Exhibition title: A Leap Year

Berlin-based Lebanese artist Rabih Mroué takes a leap towards the Middle East art scene as his first solo show in the region opens alongside the launch of his new book Diary of a Leap Year. Mroué depicts war and destruction, escape and personal history using video, collages and installations in a performative, scenographic fashion, unsurprising given his background in theatre. Works include pieces such as a wall of 366 miniature newspaper collages of war and migration, piercing and telling. He makes use of imagery and sound to create a multisensory experience for the viewer. Mroué examines fantasy, delirium and failures of an unfulfilling life in this ‘anti-biographical’ exhibition, distancing himself from the narratives to ensure viewers reach their own conclusions.

Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Beirut. Sfeir-semler.com Tel + 961 1566 550. Until 27 July.

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Ali Banisadr Rise of the Blond
Ali Banisadr
Ali Banisadr. The Rise of the Blond, 2016, Oil on Linen, 66 x 88 inches