Dubai-based Syrian artist Juliet Makhlouf on her geometric art
When it comes to abstract art, the interpretation of its meaning is often left to the viewer, and this is a point of view that Syrian artist Juliet Makhlouf follows with her latest solo exhibition ‘The Perspective’. Curated by Charles Pocock, managing director at Meem Gallery, where the exhibition is on display until Thursday May 21, the collection features 12 large-scale acrylic on canvas paintings that are carefully articulated renditions of shape and colour, created over a period of three years.
Makhlouf has exhibited her works in the UAE since the ’90s and was a teacher of fine art at schools in her native Syria, as well as in Qatar and in the UAE. She is an admirer of classic Renaissance artists and has participated in exhibitions in Dubai, Sharjah and, more recently, Madrid in Spain – at the Syrian Cultural Centre in December last year. She hopes that viewers of this current exhibition will form an emotional connection to the pieces without her revealing the intentions or meanings behind them. ‘I want people to reflect and interact with the paintings. Perhaps they see something they are feeling, but aren’t actually seeing it. This is what I want; for people to feel beyond what they see,’ she says.
‘When you go to a museum, you might see a painting with two lines in the middle, and that’s it. And perhaps you’re interested in it, but you don’t know why. I want people to relax and see beautiful things in my images. Some paintings may appear to the viewer as harsh, but they are still included in the exhibition, because in the end, it’s not something that is real. Reality is more harsh.’
According to the gallery, Makhlouf’s precision of shape and form manifest from her interest in both science and art. In past works, she has focused on the human body and movement, and her move from this to linear abstraction is a definitive departure into new territory, and Makhlouf explains that this was a time-consuming show to put together. ‘I needed to measure each shape; the planning of each piece in the exhibition took more time than its execution,’ she explains.
Meagan Kelly Horsman, business development director at Meem Gallery, says that Makhlouf’s new body of work was chosen to be showcased due to its ‘inviting nature’. ‘The sharp lines and forms, as well as excellent use of colour, invite the viewer to delve further into the midst of each piece,’ she observes. The artist aims to inspire emotion in this body of work, but without referencing any recognisable objects. ‘For Makhlouf, the viewer’s experience with the art is the message – their enjoyment and reaction to it, rather than trying to relate a particular message through her abstraction. When creating her pieces, she makes them almost compulsively. Once the image has formulated in her mind, she turns directly to the canvas and begins to paint,’ Horsman says. ‘Constructed illusions, taking on almost a structural form, draw the audience to look further at the work; exploring these carefully created renditions of shape, line and colour. The works themselves are reminiscent of optical illusions, the eye searching to make sense of the abstraction created.’
Although visually dissimilar to her previous works, ‘The Perspective’ is a continuation of Makhlouf’s exploration of movement and form. An expression of her creative and intellectual process, a visually challenging play with optical illusions and a not-to-be-missed opportunity to discover another talented local artist. Meem Gallery. Sat-Thu 10am-6pm. Until May 21. Al Quoz (04 347 7883).
More contemporary art exhibitions in Dubai
Return to Abstraction See the solo show of Asaad Arabi, a pioneering contemporary Arab painter and acclaimed art theorist. After years of musical expressionism, Arabi returns to lyrical abstraction, all the while preserving a vibrant palette and harmonious compositions. Free. Until June 18. Ayyam Gallery, Gate Village, DIFC (04 439 2395).
My Universe of imaginary creatures Saudi Arabian artist Hadil Moufti’s exhibition details how she has lived in many different countries, and how she does not feel a belonging to one in particular, and therefore recreates through her work a world of her own, between dreams and reality. Free. Until May 18. Showcase Gallery, Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz (04 379 0940).