Street art in Dubai

Art from Miami’s Wynwood neighbourhood arrives at Street Art Dubai

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We deconstruct art from Miami’s Wynwood neighbourhood creatives at Street Art Dubai.

Forget what you think you know about street art. A new gallery opening in Jumeirah is set to change the perceptions about the often controversial artform. The brainchild of entrepreneurs and lifelong art enthusiasts Stephane Valici and Thomas Perreaux Forest, Street Art Dubai is the first Dubai gallery dedicated to the representation, development and exhibiting of the artform in the city.

‘There have been street art shows here in the past,’ says Stephane. ‘But never before has there been a gallery for street art every day. ‘For collectors this is one of the most in-demand styles at the moment. There is such an interest in this style of art, but it is new and still misunderstood. There was nowhere to come and look at it and learn more.’

The gallery opens this month with a show dedicated to the infamous Miami art district, Wynwood. Fast emerging as a hub of critically, commercially, creatively and culturally successful art, it has been widely described as one of the most important artistic neighbourhoods in America.

Wynwood is a centre for the world’s street artists. Painting on walls is legitimised in the area, which already has many influential galleries, so designers and artists are encouraged to leave their stamp outside huge warehouses. Pieces can end up 60 metres long or 10 metres high and then be painted over in a few months.

‘Wynwood is an amazing place. So many artists are trying to paint on the walls there that they come from all over the world,’ explains Stephane. ‘The famous street artists all want to be a part of it and you really have to offer something special to get space to work.’

To make it in Wynwood, like most art scenes, there has to be a buzz about the artist’s work. Gallery owners need to give permission for the art to be painted on the walls and there needs to be the respect from the tight knit community of artists that you are a worthy Wynwood artist.

It is unlike any art market anywhere else in the world and many of the more celebrated artists will exhibit at the Wynwood Goes Dubai exhibition starting May 29.

‘The first thing that people need to understand is that street art is not graffiti,’ says Stephane, eager to correct a common misconception about the art he loves. ‘In fact, street art is not a style at all. It just means art that is created in the street. It is more a way of thinking about art than a description of the method of painting.’

Just five minutes looking at the art on show in the Wynwood exhibition confirms this. Cubist, abstract, pop art, realism, calligraphy, cartoon – the variety and complexity of the work marks this out as one of the most enjoyable exhibitions in Dubai this year.

The ten artists exhibiting at Wynwood Goes Dubai may have wildly differing styles but each is united by the street art cause. The opportunity to own an original work by Ivan Roque, Emi Vales, Kazilla, Skott Marsi, Jenny Perez, Diana ‘Didi’ Contreras, Hec One Love, Gabriel Giminez, REMOTE or Registered Artist does not come about often in this city.

These are some of the hottest names in the uber-cool sector right now and bringing them together under one roof has been a trial of love for Stephane and his Street Art Dubai team.

‘I have loved street art for more than 20 years. It is always changing and evolving. Collaborations, original pieces and art that comes from the street are attracting major investment from collectors and this gallery will make it more accessible to people,’ he explains.

Of course the walls of Wynwood cannot be transported to Dubai. So each artist has created original works to hang on the walls of the gallery. It is a fitting opening for the newcomer to the Dubai art scene. Situated in the former home of a boutique in Jumeirah, just behind the Lime Tree Café, Street Art Dubai is a name to watch.

Quality street
The conventional nature of the Street Art Gallery, crisp white walls, brightly lit artworks and well laid-out viewing spaces is in contrast with the ethos of the art it promotes. But for Stephane Valici and the
rest of the Street Art Dubai team, the opening of the gallery is just the beginning. ‘All of the artists at the Wynwood Goes Dubai exhibition will be coming to have individual shows this year and next. By the time they get here we will have a studio for them, and for the local community to try as well. We will also ask all the visiting artists to contribute to an ongoing series of art on the walls of the gallery as well as conducting workshops.’

The lowdown

Exhibition:
Wynwood Goes Dubai.
Free. May 29-June 25. Street Art Dubai Gallery, 10 B Street, Jumeirah 1, www.streetartdubai.ae.

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