Art fanzine in Dubai

Normally we don't like clichés but we can always make an exception. Meet the men behind Dubai's newest artzine.

Cliché is your definitive homegrown operation. A single sheet artzine that’s engineered, marketed, designed and dreamed up by Vivek and Viney Premachandran, two brothers from India who rocked up in Dubai eight years ago. Now on its eighth issue, Cliché is billed as a ‘portable gallery’ for some of the more daring outputs on the international art and graphics circuit. If you’re yet to get your hands on a copy of this edgier milestone in Dubai art history then you’re missing one of the more positive signs of the local scene’s vitality. Time Out caught up with Cliché

Is Cliché emerging from the underground?
Vivek: We want to spread the word. By the end of the year we’re looking to make sure people know there’s something out there called Cliché. Next year we plan to retail it outside of galleries and get the magazine around as much as possible. You can get it in most of the art galleries at the moment, but we’re in talks with some of the coffee shops to start getting it in there.

Viney: We are a very homegrown operation. We want to hit the smaller places.

How do you decide which artists get in there?
Vivek: I have a list of the artists that we want to feature throughout the year. I start mailing them before each issue and whoever comes back to me first gets in. Most of these guys are international so it all depends on their time and availability. We try to make it a good balance, on one side we stick with the underground fine art stuff and the other is more graphics.

What about the local artists?
Vivek: We have featured local artists, like the Brown Monkeys collective. They’re a group of Filipino graphic designers that have been out here for two years. But you know the sad part is, if you look at the Dubai underground art scene, it’s just the Monkeys and us. There’s no one else.

Viney: We’re not picky, though. If we get really good local talent, then we’ll get it in there.

There’s a clear street-art influence in the artists you feature – stencils, graffiti. What kind of scope is there for getting a scene like that here?
Vivek: It’s kind of bleak right now, but it might just pick up.

Viney: The thing is we need to educate people, street art is not vandalism. Look at places like San Francisco, it’s art.

Vivek: The biggest cliché now is Banksy. We love his work but anything good gets rated against him and a lot of people don’t realise there’s more to street art; they just see graffiti as stencils. The region itself has a good street-art scene, though. Iran has good graffiti artists, Lebanon as well. Even Saudi has got this huge graffiti park. Dubai has nothing. We’ve found three tags in Dubai. If Dubai was more open to an underground scene, they could get a lot more, and better, artists.

Issue eight is out on August 15. Dhs150 subscription for 12 issues and includes delivery and all back issues (050 737 4461). Cliché is also available for free in Traffic, Jam Jar and Third Line and will be in selected coffee shops from September. Log on to

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