Spotlighting two regional artists who have a unique way of applying traditional Arabic art forms to contemporary art, ‘The Dreamer and The Poet’ showcases the Arab world in the 21st century from an aesthetic and romantic point of view – as opposed to political. Up-and-coming artist Asal Fallah is the dreamer, her profound etchings riddled with imagination, while wise poet Abdallah Akar celebrates the ancient craft of calligraphy, his musings layered against Western poetry on textiles such as iron and wood.
Other artists also on show include famous Moroccan photographer Lalla Essaydi, Iranian artist Hosein Fasih and Egyptian contemporary artist Amr Fekry. Here’s what two of the artists said.
Asal Fallah, 28, Iranian
The artist on her work
‘The aim of the works in this collection is to produce a visual ‘autobiography’ in an environment that travels from life’s realities to the world of dreams and imagination. During the period I was on a journey with this collection, I tried to be honest in picturing the text. With all my strengths and weaknesses, it was for this reason that this collection was therapeutic for me and went beyond the creation of a mere visual reflection. The pure grey simplicity of the works gave me great tranquility, and little by little, by picturing my sorrows and loneliness, all these vacuums could be filled. I’ve never tried to impose a specific meaning on my audience. The works are a personal odyssey demonstrating that escape (through my art) is not always negative, but can be a constructive and a positive force leading to healing and a sense of freedom. I don’t believe that women found in harsh environments are suppressed, non-creative entities condemned to circumstance. I’m excited that art is increasingly being used as a way to open new doors and avenues.’
Abdallah Akar, 59, Tunisian
The artist on his work
‘With this piece, I would like to bring the true value of calligraphy and Arab poetry to the forefront of the art world, specifically in western culture where I live. It’s an artwork that is vibrant and non-hesitant in taking on board other techniques (graffiti, sculpture, photo), transforming an old art form into a modern context and vision. Arabian and Iranian calligraphers are, more than ever, exposed to Western art, and a number of them complete their training by going to a fine-arts school in the West. The calligrapher is no longer isolated. His pictures are shown next to any painter’s. My artworks are a reflection of this reality – they demonstrate an ongoing faithfulness to tradition, while being unafraid to incorporate the new. My work’s objective is to debunk the myth that the ancient Arabic art of calligraphy is a fossilised craft. My works leads you from the old to the new, from the distant to the close. This art form remains traditional, but “alive” at the same time.’
Exhibition: ‘The Dreamer and The Poet’, until January 20 at Pro Art Gallery, Sunset Mall, Jumeirah Beach Road, Jumeirah 3 (04 345 0900).
Artists: Asal Fallah, Abdallah Akar, Lalla Essaydi, Hosein Fasih, Amr Fekry
Price range of works: Dhs20,000 to Dhs100,000