Art hub DIFC is well established on the local scene, yet the area has gone a while without welcoming any new openings (unlike Al Quoz, which has experienced an influx of galleries over the past few months). But all that has now changed with the launch of RIRA Gallery, a two-level art space that is currently displaying works by emerging and established Iranian artists, in a show entitled ‘Respect to Time’. ‘The title of the show is a homage to the artists involved,’ explains gallery director Parisa Davarkia. ‘They are from different generations, yet come together through their practice.’ Here, some of the artists share their works.
Mehran Elminia, 37, from Tabriz
‘Autoritratto pianura’ (‘Auto portrait’)
‘As the name of the piece implies, it’s clear to me that we are not just a body and face. We are not always only this solid being. From different locations that we pass through, we take something away with us that’s not simply material. I am a combination of the places I pass through, my feelings, my emotions. All of these are a part of the work. I consider myself an abstract artist – I bring out the things that may or do not exist.’
Mostafa Darebaghi, 46, from Tehran
‘This work is special to me: I painted it based on a personal story, and I want viewers to make their own connection with the context and build their own story around it. I simply provide the codes. The inspiration came while Iran was making headlines a few years ago. Suddenly the visual idea of it came to me and I only realised it by painting it in 2011. The elements and symbols in my painting are all misplaced, so I would suggest none of them represent the meaning.’
Majid Sadeghinejad, 26, from Tehran
‘This piece represents two teams in a football match, with the crowd supporting their sides and the Iranian flag. I was inspired by my surroundings and old memories. This piece shows there are two sides to one game. Football is one of the most popular sports for Iranians: kids grow up wanting to be players, and they follow the matches even if they are not fans or players themselves.’
Melika Shafahi, 28, from Tehran
‘Untitled 1001 nights’
‘This describes the fabled stories of 1001 Nights, but with a modern concept. Coupled with older Eastern traditions, it recalls an ancient story with new characters and props. Many of the tales are childhood memories for me. Symbolism is evident in the modern use of Farsi calligraphy – this represents a pattern, rather than specific words. It’s an aesthetic tool and is not meant to be read.’
Exhibition: ‘Respect to Time’ until June 21 at RIRA Gallery, Lower Level, Gate Village 3, DIFC (04 369 9339).
Artists include: Mehran Elminia, Hooman Derakhshandeh, Melika Shafahi, Fereydoun Ave and Bahman Jalali.
Price range of works: Dhs16,500 to Dhs200,000.