Check out our exhibition of the week. Go on, you know you want to
Make It Believe
Amir H. Fallah paints heaps. He assembles mounds, piles and stacks of objects within the sunset-like voids of his canvases. While Fallah might be an old hand in the UAE, having exhibited with The Third Line many times before and an appearance this year in the Sharjah Biennial, the Iranian-American artist brings out some weird, new creations for this solo show.
Make It Believe peers into Fallah’s boyhood memories. Symbolism abounds as cacti teeter on the edge of his constructions, and the pieces appear like a mounting cleanout of Fallah’s found objects, recollections and thoughts on art history. Rendered in paint, the works take on the appearance of a terrifying, fragile monument to the artist’s inner life. They are precarious creations, a reflection both of the way that we attribute meaning to fleeting memories and to the erratic way that we accumulate experience.
Anarchic and loud works, they capture the bounding roar of colour in this artist’s style. Fallah will be painting a mural onto The Third Line’s walls that will link all the works together.
The influence of the Bauhaus can’t be overstated. Skyscrapers to fonts, and a towering stamp on modernist visual theory have ensured that the German school of design and fine arts has lived long past 1933 when it came to an end as an institution. One of its most prolific artists, Gyula Pap, has his own solo show at the American University in Dubai at the moment, displaying a huge selection of Pap’s black and a white photographs and metalwork pieces.
The photographs were collected by Andrea Hassan, a Dubai resident, and offer an insight into the inspirations, shapes and textures that fed into Pap’s work as a painter and the Bauhaus movement as a whole. Some are eerie: they have a starkness and a stripped down tribalism to them. Images of masked figures collapsed on the floor sit next to ethereal shots of an amoeba. They offer insight into inspirations that ran through this vital artistic movement.
Rotunda Gallery, American University in Dubai (04 318 3139), near Media City. Until May 11.
If you strolled through Art Dubai this year, you won’t have missed the two gruesome stuffed monkeys, their faces stretched into grimaces, dressed in butler-esque uniforms. That feat of macabre monkey business came from Huma Mulji, represented at the fair and now showing in Dubai with Elementa Gallery.
Mulji has no qualms about kicking up some sand. The Pakistani artist’s piece for Art Dubai 2008 caused a right furore: a taxidermied camel, grinning benignly and stuffed haphazardly into a suitcase was entitled ‘Arabian Delight’ and proved too much for some. But in this, her first ever solo show, Mulji looks back at the land of Pakistan itself. Or rather the encroaching lack of it. A post-colonial society in transition, Pakistan now faces a middleclass onslaught. Those who are getting richer want big homes, they want commuter belts. They want the suburban dream.
But what does that mean for the rural side of the Subcontinent? Families are displaced, grazing land is lost and the buffalo has to make way as high-rises and condominiums begin to replace arable land.
Or does it? What if, as the artist seems to suggest, Pakistan can’t shrug off the buffalo? Mulji describes the modern Pakistani experience as like ‘living 200 years in the past and 30 years in the future all at once’. In these images Mulji attempts to dissect how rural Pakistan, in its most visual and absurd representation as a buffalo, is never snuffed out.
Exposing rather than commenting, she examines the process of urbanisation as a sequence of senseless acts: strange architecture stands isolated in a field as two buffalos look on mournfully, another image shows a cornfield with a buffalo flung high into the air, creating the same visual intrusion in the landscape as a tower block might. She also presents a number of sculptural works: a taxidermied buffalo is suspended from a steel pylon, while another is stuffed into a drainpipe. Pakistan’s rural past, Mulji suggests with these works, won’t be forgotten that easily.