Must see exhibitions in Dubai

Jumeirah's Showcase gallery is home to three top shows

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While many local galleries decide to shut up shop over Ramadan, there are a handful of venues that are eager to lure the keen art lovers that remain in the city. Showcase Gallery has opened its doors to this idea
and is attracting culture junkies with the promise of uninterrupted exhibitions running throughout August. We take a sneak peek at the diverse offerings on show.

99 Names of Allah
A single piece of artwork rather than an entire exhibition: if you’re missing a button, chances are you’ll find it here. This two-metre-wide sculpture-style work comprises 3,200 intricately embroidered buttons stitched onto calico and is the work of 99 women from Chitral in Pakistan. Hand-woven in Urdu, each button represents the artisan’s own interpretation of the names of Allah, of which there are also 99. Weighing a rather healthy 15kg, the artwork is the last of three limited-edition pieces and is on sale at the gallery, showing during the Holy Month. A third of the profits raised will go back into the Chitral community, providing education scholarships and money to start businesses. ‘Most women live under “purdah”, which means they cannot leave their neighbourhoods to work,’ says Showcase Gallery’s Muskan Ohri. ‘The embroidery allows them to do flexible work in their homes.’ It can be yours for Dhs40,000.

Thorns Have Roses by Amartey Golding
At just 23 years old, he may be young, but dreadlocked London-based artist Amartey Golding is an old hand at exhibiting in Dubai. His third show touches on themes of cultural identity and the artist’s own internal conflict with the sense of belonging. Featuring charcoal sketches, montages on canvas and a series of street art-style photos of pieces sprawled on London streets, Golding, who is of mixed heritage, takes us on a journey of self discovery. ‘A common thread throughout my work is that positive outcomes are present in even the most negative of obstacles,’ says Golding. Although the artist insists he is no Banksy, his work embodies a cool, edgy, urban vibe, executed with an elegance and maturity that’s well beyond his years. Check out his street piece adorning Showcase Gallery’s external wall; better yet, hang one in your home, with prices from Dhs2,500 to Dhs28,000.

Summer Showcase: A Medley of Syrian Art
If you can’t make it to the Venice Biennale 2011, don’t despair: this local exhibition features Syrian artists Sabhan Adam and Neawat Badawi, who are both represented at the art world’s biggest event this year. With a focus on the human form, the exhibition showcases the work of a number of acclaimed contemporary Syrian artists, including the likes of Houmam Al Sayed (whose work is pictured below, and whose successful sale at Christie’s Dubai in April has earned him much kudos). His distorted, figurative oil paintings will feature alongside the bronze and wax sculptures of lesser-known artist Issa Kazah. Take this as your cue for the next big names to watch. Want to snap something up for your home? Prices range from Dhs2,500 to Dhs35,000.


The lowdown

Exhibitions: ‘99 names of Allah’, throughout Ramadan; ‘Thorns Have Roses’, ongoing; ‘Summer Showcase: A Medley of Syrian Art’, until August 31.

Artists: Amartey Golding (London); Houmam Al Sayed, Sabhan Adam, Issa Kazah and Neamat Badawi (Syria); 99 women from Chitral (Pakistan)

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