Hussein Madi, 'Untitled'
Detail from Hussein Madi, ‘Untitled’, 2016, Acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of Mark Hachem Gallery
One of the most prolific artists of the Arab world, his style is reminiscent of European cubists Picasso and Matisse before him, but also draws heavily on his Middle Eastern heritage, marrying his subjects and colours with more traditional Islamic designs to conceive a unique body of work. An artist with huge range, this vibrant piece, painted late in his career and exhibited at Mark Hachem Gallery's booth, exemplifies his signature cubist style, using rich colours and angular, geometric shapes, and is one of his most abstract works.
Heba Y. Amin, 'Portrait of Woman as Dictator I'
Heba Y. Amin, ‘Portrait of Woman as Dictator I’, 2018, Archival B/W print, 80 × 63 cm. Courtesy of Zilberman Gallery
The image, on show at Zilberman Gallery's booth, is part of Egyptian visionary Heba Amin’s project ‘Operation Sunken Sea’. The project is almost a satire of the work of German architect Herman Sorgel, whose own utopic ‘Make Europe Great Again’-style solution to the world’s conflicts, crises and existential threats involved draining the Mediterranean Sea and joining Africa and Europe to form a supercontinent, to the benefit of the latter continent. Amin stages a rewriting of history, in which she imagines carrying out the plan to the benefit of the African continent: a universe in which the roles are reversed and she is supreme autocrat, embodying the typical ‘masculinity’, mannerisms and rhetoric of a dictator. This powerful monochrome portrait is a recreation of a similar picture of Herman Sorgel, but within Amin’s piercing gaze is a condemnation of colonialism, the brutality of power and the concept of ownership.
Farid Rasulov, 'Carpet Interior Series - Cats in the Living Room'
Farid Rasulov ‘Carpet Interior Series – Cats in the Living Room’, 2014, Computer generated image, C-Print, 100 x 150 cm. Courtesy of the artist and SANATORIUM
These striking digital prints, creating using CGI effects, were originally conceived as a full-scale installation for the 2013 Venice Biennale. The images, on display at SANATORIUM's booth, depict domestic interiors covered in intricate, burgundy-toned Azerbaijani carpets and feature an array of different white animal sculptures, at a discord with their surroundings. The topical undertone of the works, they represent the feelings of isolation of migrants upon being immersed in an alien culture.
Ibrahim El Dessouki, 'The Seventh Day'
Detail from Ibrahim El Dessouki, ‘The Seventh Day’, 2019, Oil and oil bars on canvas, 250 x 561 cm. Courtesy of Hafez Gallery
Head to Hafez Gallery’s booth to see this Egyptian artist Ibrahim El Dessouki’s triptych of seven majestic, goddess-like women; in fact, they are incarnations of the Egyptian goddess of motherhood, Hathor, in her human as opposed to bovine form. The painting derives its name from Egyptian tradition, inherited from ancient times, ‘El Sebou’ or ‘The Seventh Day’. The ritual is a seven-day celebration upon the birth of a child; the seventh day is when the child is believed to gain their hearing. The goddess appears in her seven iterations until the final day, upon which she whispers the baby’s faith. The pure-white of their garments highlights their dark features and olive skin to produce a striking image of a woman, captured candidly in the midst of various tasks, who epitomises Eastern ideals of beauty.
Rasheed Araeen, 'Untitled (Red)'
Detail from Rasheed Araeen, ‘Untitled (Red)’, 2015, Wood and Paint. Courtesy of Aicon Gallery
The minimalist Pakistani artist Rasheed Araeen continues to receive increased recognition for his eye-catching geometric sculptures that command the attention of a room. It’s not difficult to believe he trained as an engineer, with his interest lying in the bare bones of structures, stripped down to their most basic form. He creates shapes with whole structures and interacting structures, as well as within each structure and using vivid primary colours painted upon each structure - on display at Aicon Gallery's booth.
Anahita Razmi, 'Reign Coat #1'
Anahita Razmi, ‘Reign Coat #1’, 2018, Carpet Jinbaori, 148 x 164 cm. Courtesy of Carbon 12
This piece, a seemingly decorative object at first glance, is part of Anahita Razmi’s art of the ‘Take Me To Your Leader’ series, centring around the notion of ‘cross-cultural misunderstandings’ and examining identity, inspired by her own mixed heritage. She points, in this series, to inaccuracies in the representation of Eastern culture by those in the West and, in this case, to cultural miscommunication. This garment, using the silhouette of a traditional Japanese jinbaori, but fabricated from Persian carpet, is a nod to and contemporary recreation of the eclectic Persian carpet jinbaori on show in Kodaiji Temple in Kyoto. On display at Carbon 12's booth, it harks back to a cultural exchange of the 16th century ‘gone wrong’; when Persian carpets began to arrive in Japan via the Silk Road, they were used as fabric to conceive lavish jinbaoris rather than used as a domestic furnishing, since placing the luxury material on the floor did not align with local custom.
Reza Aramesh, 'Action 111. 21 Feb 2009, Baghdad'
Reza Aramesh, ‘Action 111. 21 Feb 2009, Baghdad’, 2011, Black and white hand-printed silver gelatin print, 195 x 270 cm. Courtesy of Leila Heller Gallery
Iranian artist Reza Aramesh draws on reportage-type photographs to conceive his triptych, on view at Leila Heller Gallery’s booth. He positions his refugees as they were in news photographs, but against backdrops of splendour and luxury – in this case, the Palace of Versailles. By juxtaposing human suffering and man-made, superfluous opulence, he exposes the irony of large-scale conflicts and global crises, ultimately giving a sense of their universal tragedy.
Tadesse Mesfin’s ‘Pillars of Life: Strength II'
Tadesse Mesfin, 'Pillars of Life: Strength II', 2019, Oil on canvas, 147 x 112 cm. Courtesy of Addis Fine Art
The Ethiopian master’s work, on display at Addis Fine Art’s booth, is almost an ode to the women of the marketplace in his home country. The title of the series, ‘Pillars of Life’, mirrors the women’s importance as the pillars of Ethiopian society, integral to its very operation. The women are depicted as regal and dignified, in a columnar arrangement that evokes physical pillars. He expresses his desire that the women be appreciated for the contribution they make to society, rather than just the wares they sell.
Lead image: Farid Rasulov, 'Carpet Interiors Series - Kangaroo in the Bedroom', 2014, Computer generated image, C-Print, 100 x 150 cm. Courtesy of the artist and SANATORIUM.
Art Dubai runs from 20-23 March at Madinat Jumeirah.