Art Dubai highlights by Samia Halaby

One of the Arab world’s leading artists talks us through five must-see works

Annabel Daou at Galerie Tanja Wagner

‘Although Annabel Daou’s work focuses on words, its beauty lies in an intuitive sense of natural process. There is a system obvious in the work, a way of writing and digging which enlightens the visual form. Handwritten words, in English or English spelled out in Arabic letters, manipulate space in the same way as calligraphy in contemporary Arab painting. They form visual patterns equal in importance with any meaning the words might symbolize. Yet there is meaning in the words, implying a love of revolution and certain nostalgia for the potential change war could bring. There is also a lot of digging into paper reminiscent of posters slowly disintegrating on city walls.

‘However the most important part of the work is its visual impact, the sense of remains, of layers of human action, or the effects geological process, or the drawings waves and various creatures leave in the sand of a beach. It is as though this young artist deeply absorbed in her process of writing and digging has allowed an intuitive sense of beauty to emerge unfettered.’

Rebecca Horn at Galleria Marie-Laure Fleisch
‘I selected Rebecca Horn because of the beauty of her three works on paper shown to us judges. They spoke immediately of a careful balance between the beauty and concreteness of things that grow. These works superbly reflect effects of natural activity as though we are seeing the dancing of palm trees or the waving arms of dancers all splashing us with rain and color. The aesthetic is that of impulse and simplicity as though a few superb examples were chosen out tens of these drawings done with unbound gesture.

‘After my admiration I checked her out on the web and found her to be both mature and exceptionally varied in creative inventiveness, yet there is a clear path that she travels as an artist.’

Adam Henein as Karim Francis Gallery
‘Do not miss the masterful sculptures of Adam Henein dating from the 1950s. It is a special treat to see the early works of the gentle and insightful sculptor in his early work. As one of the great artists of the 20th century these few exhibited works give us a view of how special he was even as youth. They were made when he was only twenty-five years of age.’

Nabile Nahas at Lawrie Shabibi
‘The beautiful geometric paintings of Nabile Nahas dating from the late seventies are probably my favorite period in his prolific and wonderful output. They bring together the traditions of medieval Islamic art with twentieth century abstraction. Space is relative, color is luminous, and the multiple thin lines sing and weave the space and color creating aesthetic excitement. Although they look nothing like the abstractions of the twentieth centuries first truly abstract artist, Kazimir Malevich, they yet posses that sense of looking upwards into a great space and of flying towards it intellectually.’

Kim Atta at 313 ART PROJECT
‘It is the hypnotic influence on us of detail rendered equally sharp throughout the expanse of an image that captures and fascinates. Kim Atta captures us by provoking our curiosity. Even while creating a large expanse the precision of detail makes us feel as though we are voyeurs surreptitiously peeking into a world of the strange, the secret, or the forbidden.’

Art Dubai takes place at Madinat Jumeirah from March 19-22. For more information see

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