We take a look at the latest shows opening up on our shores, from sculptures and outdoor art and beyond
If you bore witness to the sheer scale of Carbon 12’s inaugural Sneak Peek when it opened back in December, then a few of the names in this (again vast) group show will be familiar. Farzan Sadjadi’s grim, Goya-infused style caught our eye. Having been through the mill of national service in his native Iran Sadjadi reflects on the abysmal pointlessness of the military, as he experienced it. He paints dramatic, almost elemental scenes of destruction. Often devoid of people, his war is a grim skirmish between tanks and harassed horses only.
While Sneak Peek was an overview of what Carbon 12 planned to unleash on Dubai in the coming year, the seven artists in this show fall more into the emerging category of the gallery’s roster. With Mathias Garnitschnig, Omid Massoumi, Philip Mueller, Alessa Esteban and Bernhard Garnicnig, also featuring, look out for Florian Hafele’s small and intricate sculptures of people. Figures float, dance; tie themselves into obscure and surreal knots that capture a kinetic burst of compounded acrylic. Faceless and whitened to an artificial hue, Hafele’s characters appear as detached entities subsumed in some empty, but ritualised social dance.
From what we’ve seen, there’s no doubt that these are the gallery’s emerging artists but, collectively, there is something energised about this show. We’ve said it once, but we’ll say it again: you have to hand it to Carbon 12 for pulling in the very different into this art scene and offering a healthy slap of diversity. An insight into what some of central Europe’s (and even some of Iran’s) avant-garde ateliers are pumping out at the moment. Recommended.
Just in case you missed the fanfare, Fernando Botero, the Columbian master of chubby figurative painting and sculpture, has designed a towering (and rather bulbous) bronze horse to adorn the Burj Dubai courtyard. Dropped between the Burj and The Address, this 1.5 tonne monument to the UAE’s equestrian heritage has been given the Botero once-over. Exuding a luxury of body, typical of Botero’s sculpture and style of figure, the horse suggests something elemental and exaggerated. Wholly unlike those multi-coloured fibreglass horses that dot roundabouts and junctions of our fair city, Botero’s playfulness comes as a refreshing take on public art and this piece is among Dubai’s first permanent public works. Well worth a look. Situated between The Address and the Burj Dubai.
Humans/Seasons of Solitude
The Empty Quarter gallery really lives up to its name with this two-man show. White, white and more white, a collection of simple and stark scenes adorn the walls of the DIFC space right now. Mohammadreza Mizraei’s Humans series could be a bleak shadowplay. He describes these silhouetted and strangely dramatic scenes as ‘a kind of utopia, a non-descript town. Somewhere that nobody knows where it is. People are coming, staying for a while, talking, standing, sitting, playing, doing what they should do, and then leaving the stage.’ A motorcycle is seen on a solitary road, flanked by a scrubby outcrop of grass. Mizraei’s Humans works are interesting, if slightly aloof.
While American Lou Raizin works are also without colour, he has captured something that’s more peaceful than desolate. A bench sits amid an all-encompassing whiteness and looks onto a void. There is potential in all that white, Raizin suggests. He isn’t interested in the bench, but the reflective qualities it offers. The artist is driven by place, by the potential of a place and how we can apprehend the spaces that offer us deep and freed introspection. This dual show is a slightly more narrative twist than those the The Empty Quarter has exhibited since it opened. A welcome turn, we say.