Great contemporary artists showing their work in Dubai
A spate of graffiti art appearing on public property across Dubai – the most recent tongue-in-cheek verse announcing ‘Pull the cord, I’ve seen enough’ outside a TECOM construction site – has prompted interesting dialogue about the role of street art in our city. Whereas New York and London have a prominent graffiti culture, defacing public spaces is a criminal offence in Dubai and something that the city takes seriously. But there are other ways local artists (and viewers) can explore the realms of shock and street art.
The latest exhibition from The Farook Collection, entitled ‘The State: Social/Antisocial?’, features some of modern art’s biggest names, with pieces from Banksy, Tracy Emin and Damien Hirst on show in Dubai for the first time. These champions of shock art are guaranteed to make you think: here we take a closer look at some of the artists on show.
Banksy, age unknown, British When he first hit the scene some 10 years ago, there was no way the faceless man behind the Banksy brand could have predicted his own success. As the world’s most notorious street artist, he uses stencils and prop to create his own social propaganda by turning the spotlight back on issues that governments wash over. His portfolio includes a trip to the Palestinian side of the West Bank barrier, on which he sprayed satirical images of life on the ‘other side’. In January 2011 he received an Oscar nomination for his documentary film, Exit Through the Gift Shop, about a French videographer who infamously cashed in on graffiti culture. The mystique associated with Banksy’s work is his biggest draw – despite many rumours, his true identity is still unknown.
Shepard Fairey, 41, American One of urban culture’s success stories, Fairey is an influential street artist most known for his ‘Andre the Giant Has a Posse’ sticker campaign which he unleashed on Rhode Island streets in the late ’80s. But it wasn’t until his 2008 Obama ‘Hope’ campaign poster that his name became the talk of the town. His LA night-time graffiti escapades feature in Banksy documentary Exit Through The Gift Shop and he has been arrested numerous times for vandalism. Even so, he is a respected American artist, and his pieces have found homes in Washington DC’s Smithsonian and New York’s Museum of Modern Art.
Tracey Emin, 48, British-Turkish Emin’s confessional style of art can make the best of us squirm, but the piece on display throughout ‘The State: Social/Antisocial?’ is one of her less confronting works, a neon sign expressing the words ‘Just Love Me’. Her work questions the perceived role of women in society: she is most famous for ‘Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-1995’, a tent inside which she named every person she has ever shared a bed with, including her twin brother. Although it caused controversy, its aim was to explore intimacy in a general sense.
Damien Hirst, 46, British In 2010, Hirst was named Britain’s richest living artist by UK newspaper The Sunday Times – surprising considering the majority of his work revolves around death. He shot to fame in 1991 with a series of artworks depicting dead animals, including a four-metre tiger shark, a zebra and a sheep, preserved in formaldehyde and set in aquarium-like cases. The artwork on show at Traffic is entitled ‘Syringe Painting’ and features bufferflies and real paracetamol tablets.
The lowdown Exhibition: ‘The State: Social/Antisocial?’, until October 20 at Traffic, Al Quoz (04 347 0209). Artists: Mahmoud Bakhshi, Banksy, James Clar, Nada Dada, Tracey Emin, Shepard Fairey, Rami Farook, Abdulnasser Gharem, Damien Hirst, Hayv Kahraman, Ahmed Mater, Shaikha Al Mazrou, Aman Mojadidi, Hesam Rahmanian, Anahita Razmi, The Bruce High Quality Foundation, UBIK and Ayman Yossri. Price range: Only a selection are on sale, with prices from Dhs7,350 to Dhs201,990.